Friday, October 31, 2008

Novel updater: Oct. 31

Happy Halloween:
I debuted my costume yesterday, and one woman almost went into shock. I seriously thought she was going to medicate herself with insulin because my costume idea is so sweet. I also bumped into a crew dressed up as the Chanel 4 News Team, featuring Ron Burgandy, Brick Tamlin, Brian Fontana and Chase Kind. I think Wes Mantooth was also there, but I didn't see his mother Dorothy Mantooth. I've heard she's really great.

Novel Updater:
The novel is closing in on its ending, and I've got time today to wrap it up. I haven't counted how much I wrote yesterday, but it was pretty significant. I had about an hour and a half of undisturbed writing, and I sped right through a pretty important scene. For anyone who's read the book, I finally killed off the reporter for the Windsor Borealis. That might bring you some satisfaction.

Part One:
1 prologue
18 chapters
111 pages
64,447 words

Part Two:
8 chapters
63 pages (2 more)
35,871 words (1,369 more).

Total novel:
1 prologue
2 parts
27 chapters
173 pages (2 more)
100,609 words (1,369 more)

Novel excerpt:
In case you were wondering what this is all about and you wanted to a taste, here is an excerpt from Chapter Six of Part Two.

Police Chief Hal Doric was driving home from City Council – it was late, and he surely wasn’t going to receive overtime for it, either. He was huffing and grumpy. He was in such a bad mood, and it wouldn’t take much to set him off. And that’s when it happened.

A bright red 2008 Mustang GT was in his rearview mirror. It was next year’s model, out already. Even for this time of year, it looked shiny and waxed. Someone had put a lot of care into keeping that vehicle in tip-top shape. Its wide front end purred deeply as it gently cruised up into the lane beside him at a stoplight. There was a woman with beautifully kept blonde hair searching through her purse. She wasn’t facing him, and all he could see was that her hair shined as brightly as her car’s front end.

He smiled, until she turned back to face the road, and he realized it was his ex-wife. Annie Dori.. no, Showalter now. Annette Showalter. Her face hadn’t aged a bit in all these years. Her windows were up, and she was tapping her fingers on the steering wheel to the beat of whatever song was playing in her car. Probably that latest song from that fucker-band, “Take Your Husband’s Money,” thought Doric.

Hal was still driving a piece of shit that he bought 15 years ago because he couldn’t afford anything. He was still paying a mortgage on his home and he hardly took any vacations all because he was so damned broke all the time. Yeah, he was paid well by the city to be the chief of police, but he paid most of that money to his ex-wife. The worst part was, she took his money, and spent all her sugar-daddy’s flow, too. She had two incomes rolling into her thousand-dollar-Paddington tote clutch bag, and no plans of remarrying. Why would the bitch? She couldn’t afford to get married, not at the salary she was receiving. She was making way too much staying single.

Doric sneered and thought of nothing but getting back to his hole-in-the-wall and taking out a stiff bottle of whiskey. He’d taken enough abuse today – and abusing himself with a bottle of booze was his ironic reward for it. It’s funny how we love the things that hurt us.

Glass in hand, Doric flicked through the channels on his television. He didn’t have cable, just an antenna, and he got about six scrambled channels. He was okay with it because he got the major networks, meaning he was supposed to get some of the best television programming on the air. But even that disappointed him now.

The game shows were just ending, and the prime-time programs were just coming on – and it was all trash. The networks were supposed to be delivering quality entertainment. They were the networks, for God’s sake. They had the money to put great shows and super casts together, but no, they’ve got reality shows, game shows, stupid dramas all unscripted and ... man, it pissed him off. It seemed the networks just waited until something clever made it big in England or Japan, and then they bought the rights and made it themselves. In fact, a preview for another hit in Japan showed teammates in bodysuits jumping over rolling logs, climbing up mud-slicked inclines and dodging the spinning blades of a rotating fan, all for cash.

One contestant was smacked by the rotating fan and tossed into a pit of water.

Rotating fan…

The mill! Doric had forgotten entirely that he was supposed to warn Gordon and Hallimut!

Yeah, intense, I know ;)

I'm literally about 2,000 words away from finishing. Today's the day! Then hockey, so no celebrating (N) [yeah, that's the msn style emoticon depicting my mood - usually I'm (H)!!]

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Novel updater: Oct. 30

Still no recommendations for what a zombie stegosaurus might be up to? I'll make it happen and hopefully have a quick turnaround on the image.

Halloween costume

Yeah, my new costume is almost finished. The key ingredient is the hat. It looks home-made, but that really adds some impact to a halloween costume. When you see someone walking around in a neat cardboard box robot costume, you revere it more than someone in a costume they bought from a store. Anyhow, I hope to get a picture of it to post up sooner than later. We'll see how it goes.

Lost updates:
There are a series of new spoilers out regarding Lost's new season in early 2009. You can read them if you'd like, at In the 'rumors' section, there is a walk through of one of the early episodes, but it's possibly all wrong. You can check for yourself, I guess.

Novel Updater
I had the good fortune to write a few more pages on the novel last night. It's getting very close to where I want to finish. I was a bit stuck for a bit, but things are rolling along nicely right now. It's going well. I suspect I'll get a few more paragraphs done soon, maybe even a couple pages, today.

Part One:
1 prologue
18 chapters
111 pages
64,447 words

Part Two:
8 chapters
61 pages (2 more)
35,871 words (1,237 more).

Total novel:
1 prologue
2 parts
27 chapters
171 pages (2 more)
99,487 words (1,237 more)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

MLC update: Oct. 28

After all of that dumb dinosaur stuff (which I still dont' understand) I forgot why I was posting anything at all - and that's for the Maple Leafs Challenge.

The update from last night is up, and there was only one scoring play, and it was by me. I got 7 more points, and now am in the lead with 42 points overall - while everyone else stayed put with where they were at.

Tonight against New Jersey, we'll have to wait and see what more comes of it all.

Stegosaurus wins.

I'm not entirely sure what "Immediate Regret" is, but it appears to be a random blog out there on the Interweb. Probably a site that I'd never stumble upon if they didn't conduct their Immediate Regret Dinosaur Draft.

I can't seem to make any rhyme or reason out of this: about five of them decided to "draft" dinosaurs into a party of three each. Then others rated who had the best dinosaur party.

In the end, this is how it looked:

Ross: Spinosaurus, Anklyosaurus, Rapticon
Andy: Velociraptors, Quetzalcoatlus, Triceratops
DWheezy: Utahrapto, T-Rex on Dino Riders, Stegosaurus
Ben: Pterodactyl, Pachycephalosaurus, Dino
MM: T-Rex, Denver the Last Dinosaur, Yoshi

Yeah, they picked cartoon dinosaurs, old dinosaur toys and real dinosaurs all onto their lists. I don't now why. It would appear that MM received the most votes, and thus became the "winner."

Alright, I wouldn't usually spend this much time on a setup, but I think it was important that I explained how if found: Turf Wars.

You get to play as a dinosaur and eat other dinosaurs in a turf war. I hold the first, second and third place high scores, mostly because Stegosaurus is totally awesome. In my first run through the game (you know, when you're just mashing buttons to see what each of them does) I demolished the high score at the time by like 100,000 points.

I am a victor.

Yet - now that I've gone back and double-checked the high scores, it's as if it's not actually recorded when you achieve a high score. Not sure I like that.

Here's a chance for your input

With my appreciation for the stegosaurus now in print, I'd like to announce that my next Dinosaur Zombie installment will be of a stegosaurus, doing something or other. I will accept recommendations - zombie stegosaurus doing what?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Novel updater: Oct. 27

Novel Update
Getting closer now, which is good. I think there are still about 10 pages to go in this book, meaning I've got to keep at it.

Wish me luck. The last day of the month is Friday, meaning if I'm going to reach my goal, I've got to get it done by then.

Part One:
1 prologue
18 chapters
111 pages
64,447 words

Part Two:
8 chapters
59 pages (3 more)
35,871 words (1,604 more).

Total novel:
1 prologue
2 parts
27 chapters
169 pages (2 more)
98,350 words (1,604 more)

30 zombies in 30 seconds?

I've started work on my Halloween costume last night, and my fiance was helping out a lot. She did a lot of sewing and tying to get this thing closer to where it needs to be. It's going to be a great costume. I was hoping to wear it all Friday - but it's looking more and more like I've got a relatively important work meeting that day, which may not be the most appropriate place to wear a costume.

Leafers play the Lightning tonight, and the Maple Leafs Challenge is back on. Will tonight yield any further results? Frankly, the Leafs should win this game. Tampa has been absolutely awful, and the Leafs have been out-playing teams for over three games now.

Here's a neat link to a quick video called: 30 zombies in 30 seconds. Simply, it's a quick video with lots of zombies in it, and you get to try and identify where they're all from. I don't think I could get all 30, but I recognize: Ed from Shaun of the Dead, baby from Dawn of the Dead (the newest one), Abe Lincoln from the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, one of those dumb zombies from I Am Legend, Michael Jackson from Thriller, psycho zombie from The Evil Dead, skeleton zombie from Army of Darkness, then Rob Zombie, and the little boy Jim kills in 28 Days Later. Out of 30, that's not too many.

The rest are likely from Alone in the Dark, Iron Maiden CD Jackets and Resident Evil (the game, not the movie). I didn't notice anything from the classic Night of the Living Dead films, which was a bit odd. I don't know much about the "WarCry Community" but this seemed to rely heavily on video game contributions - and if you watch the 30 monsters in 30 seconds, you'll see that competition was all video game monsters. I think I recognized less than five of them, too.

Yesterday was a writeoff, which is bad. I wanted to do more things, but just couldn't fit it in to the day. Today, still busy but I'd like to hope that the novel fits in the list of things to do. But first, I've got to get myself to the office before our editorial board meeting. So I'm off.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Maple Leafs Challenge update:

There was only one scoring event, and that was: The opposition scores a goal in the last minute of the third period, which the Ottawa Senators did, short handed, against the Leafs last Saturday. I spent Sunday traveling/eating and have been pretty busy all Monday, until just now. So the website is updated with the latest scoring leaders. 

Everyone had this particular event selected, so we all went up six points, and the scoring leaders remain the same, Michal Tellos with a near 1 point lead. The game on Tuesday against the Lightning should be interesting. One of these days, we're going to quit having scoring events, which might slow things down.

And Hi Cara, I've enjoyed all the comments. How are things going with the new job?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dinosaur Zombies explained

Dinosaur Zombies:

Of course we remember Dinosaurs Attack! from just a few posts ago. What I hadn't known was that Tim Burton was interested in making this set of trading cards from Topps into a full motion picture, but Jurassic Park came out, so he made a movie called Mars Attacks instead. Dinosaurs Attack! would have been an awesome movie!
And, using this website's logic: Zombies + Anything = More Awesomer, Dinosaur Zombies should be awesome. It would appear that many online gaming sites (for Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, for example) are flooding their environments with zombies for the holiday season. That's pretty cool.

I hope to have more images of Zombie Dinosaurs coming up in the near future - this weekend has been a bit of a write-off.

Upcoming season of Lost:
This link sums up most of the spoilers (tastefully) for Season 5, and offers a good summation of things to date. Instead of following along on websites for days and days, just browsing through this article is probably the best way to get yourself up to speed with the expectations for the new season.

Now to shower and hit a construction site.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Dirty Dancing

Hi there,

just a brief note to say that I had a chance to see my cousin Ashely in the Royal Alexandra Theatre's production of Dirty Dancing last evening, and it was really great. I may edit this later when I've got more time to spend online.

If you're in Toronto, the theatre is easy to get to (three blocks from the St. Andrew's station) and the show is terrific. It's running until March, I think.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Maple Leafs Challenge is updated

Just like the title says, the MLC is updated, and the leader remains Michal Tellos with 30 points. He's doing well so far. There is still plenty of hockey to play before the end of the season, so if you'd like to register, you absolutely can. Remember, there are only 25 scoring plays, so over the next 70 games or so, there is plenty of space to play catch up.

You can find all the information at The Maple Leafs Challenge official hompage
Soon to be our anniversary.

October 24 will be our anniversary in two years - a year after our wedding, a year from now. We're chipping away at the things that we need to get done, and I hope to knock a few more things off this weekend.

The final chapter of the novel is coming along very slowly. I don't think I should work on it while I'm watching a hockey game - the material just doesn't come out the way I think it should. I wrote over a page last night, and it just didn't fit the tone and style I was looking for.

My fiance thinks I'm looking for excuses to not finish the book, and she may be right. I've been dragging my feet. But I promise, I'm very interested in getting this done. In the next week I'd like to seriously put some time into it and try and get it done before I'm handed another assignment from In Business.

If I get another assignment before the end of the month, I seriously doubt I'll get a chance to really dedicate the time to finish the novel before November comes. And of course, November is Nanowrimo and I want to work on the Choose Your Own Adventure story.

Going along with neat news: The Windsor Spitfires are on their way to being totally awesome. They're 13-1 right now, leading the OHL is ass-kicking. They're having an excellent season. And Super Spit Taylor Hall is leading the league with 24 points in 14 games. Being awesome.

I'll try and get an update on the Maple Leafs Challenge later on today - but I'm not sure it's going to be possible until much later tonight. I'll get the updates up on the site as soon as I can (possibly Saturday morning).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Novel updater: Oct. 23

I did a few more words on the novel tonight during the Leafs game. And as for the Leafs game - they WON, which is awesome AND they scored in the last minute of the third period, meaning someone got points for the Maple Leafs Challenge (like me! ;)

Novel Update
Part One:
1 prologue
18 chapters
111 pages
64,447 words

Part Two:
8 chapters (1 more)
56 pages (2 more)
34,275 words (1,175 more).

Total novel:
1 prologue
2 parts
27 chapters (1 more)
167 pages (2 more)
96,854 words (1,175 more)
Yesterday I came up with a fantastic hallowe'en costume idea, and I'm looking forward to doing what I've got to do to get it done. I've whipped up a list of items I'm going to need, and there are some special things that I hope I can get my hands on to get this thing to work.

I don't really have any pictures of my costume from last year, but now that my computer is coming back from the shop, perhaps I will have those things. I know I took pictures of the costume as I was working on it - I'd like to think that I've got some images of it finished and on.

I'll also see if I can find my old jack'o lantern pictures. The last two years have been great - and I want to make a goalie mask pumpkin, but that might be an awful challenge. My ninja turtle and Abe Lincoln pumpkins turned out really well.

This weekend:
I'm out of town this weekend visiting my grandma for her 90th birthday, and it sounds like there's going to be like 60 people visiting. My cousin just had a baby, so I hope to meet her. A whole series of members of the fam should be around, which is always fun, as well.

On a related note, I'll be seeing a cousin from my other side in 'Dirty Dancing' at the Royal Alexander Theatre in Toronto. Do you think I can find a picture of it to post here, though? No way!

Yet, with all of that going on (which is admittedly only two things over three days), I'm sure that I'll be able to make some progress on the novel and keep posting online.

We're also going to try and book / enquire about booking the Windsor Art Gallery for our wedding ceremony - and that would be awesome. It's right downtown, a great place for a rehersal dinner, near all the hotels, near a bunch of restaurants, etc. It'd be a great place for the ceremony. Plus it's on the river front - a good place for pictures after the show. So we've got our fingers crossed for that.

In fact, I've got to make the call right now. Talk to you in a bit.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How's this looking?

So, as you've seen the progression of these images as I add elements, I'll introduce to you the city/jungle scape that I drew the other night:
Again, here's a small backscape of a bit of a city beside a stupid mountain.
Click to enlarge, if you want.

And then I run it through photoshoop, and readjust some of the existing materials that I've shown you earlier and you get:

So it's just the same images you've already seen, but with most of the elements all added together, ready to be viewed in one shot. Neat, eh? You can click to enlarge this.

There are, of course, plenty of amazing dinosaurs to zombify and set loose, so stay tuned. I'll have more items to view as we go. Although, it might be a little while before I get too caught up in this - because I'll be out of town for the weekend, and likely out of any creative routine with visiting, etc.

I am feeling below par

Which is an odd expression if only because you want to be below par, when you're golfing. But I think the expression links more to the leader board, which is ranked in descending order - so the best scores are at the top, then there's par, and people who aren't below par, are located underneath the par level on the leader board - which I think is where below par comes from.

Stupid, I know.

Zombie Dinosaurs:
I whipped up some background images for the pictures, and I'll have to see how they work out when I plug them into the finished files. Should be interesting - I did a quick search on dinosaur zombies, and apparently this isn't as original an idea as I'd first believed. That doesn't mean that my story isn't going to be awesome and original, though. It'll be fantastic.

The novel:
I spent some time while watching the Leafs game to plot out the final chapter of the novel, and it should work out nicely. I even managed to readjust something from Part One of the novel (something which I had thought I had fixed a long, long time ago - but apparently hadn't) and lay down about four paragraphs. It's not much in terms of content, but with the plot points all figured out, now it's just like connecting the dots.

Maple Leafs Challenge:
Updates to the Maple Leafs Challenge are up on the official website, and there were a lot of points last night, meaning a lot of movement in the standings. A four-way tie for first place no longer exists, and Michal Tellos is now in the lead.

How did the Leafs look? Like I expected them. They'll have to play their asses off to simply get two goals in a game against a team that wins less often than any other in the league. The Leafs are going to really struggle this year - and I hope that dumbass who came to the site ages ago to complain that my expectations were too low for the Leafs can eat his words.

There have been Sundin rumours that he's returned to North America and that he's spending time with some fantastic personal trainer (which would mean he's reconditioning himself to get back into game-shape). That would suggest that he's preparing to return to the NHL some time, right? Not that I could find a link to that information - so ... it's my word against any known report of it ever having happened. This post alludes to what I'm talking about, if that's any concilation.

I guess what I'm getting at is: when Sundin finally makes a decision on his future, then I can run the post I've got prepared regarding his NHL career, and potential for the Hockey Hall of Fame. (Here's a hint - I think it's low, as it stands).

Anyhow, to anyone out there who's had a stroke recently, and I haven't been able to reach to see how they're doing: I hope you're feeling better. And call me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bonus update on the Leafs

I'm not doing an update on the Maple Leafs Challenge until tomorrow morning, so I'm not looking at all of the spreadsheets right now - but there are some major points up for grab in this game tonight!

First of fall, Anaheim is the worst team in their division, their conference and the league. That means that if the Leafs lose to them, there are three big events that could cash in. The Leafs scored in the last minute of the 3rd period, and the Leafs held the opposition to fewer than 3 shots in a period. AND a Leaf might get 10 shots in a game, if Grabovsky can sneak another 3 shots in somewhere during overtime.

So an exciting evening in the Maple Leafs Challenge, I have to say!

Stay tuned tomorrow morning at: The Maple Leafs Challenge for a full update.

Zombies, dinosaurs, Lost and ... well, some football.

Lancers football:
Starting off with a rare football post, now that the Lancers have missed the CIS playoffs, the Director of Athletics at the University of Windsor, Handsome Gord Grace, is irate. Yet, normally in these instances you fire the head coach. That appears to not be the plan in Windsor.

- "The result was not acceptable and was not last year," Grace said. "Things have to change."
- "I'll submit my recommendations to senior management and, at the end of the week, there should be some changes announced," Grace said.
- Grace said those changes won't involve head coach Mike Morencie, but likely some members of his coaching staff.
- Morencie is less than 16 months into a new four-year deal that doesn't expire until July 1, 2011.He's also part of the teaching faculty with his position covered by the union, but Grace made it clear missing the playoffs is not acceptable.
- Grace said the university has invested a great deal of money in the football program from a new stadium, to a full-time assistant coach, scholarship money and field turf.

So what's going to give? The games that the Lancers did win this season (especially the enormous upset over the Ottawa Gee Gees) came during the WUFA strike while Morencie was 'striking' and not coaching the team. Now you know. (I use airquotes because I believe he was still on the side-lines with his players, assuming many of the duties of head coach during that time).

Fans of Lost:
A major night for fans of Lost last night with a whole slew of new spoilers for the new season coming out:
Brian K. Vaughn is a comic-book writer, but is now working on Lost. He sounds like Ray Romano. They are about seven episodes in on Lost, and it will be the strangest series on network tv ever.

A casting call has ordered another five new characters to be brought to the show, three of them to be co-stars, which means at least three of them should appear in more than one episode.

And a clarification about the Dharma stations if anyone had heard that there were going to be some in places they weren't expected to be: well, that turned out to be a little misleading. New evidence suggests that they aren't in places you wouldn't expect them as much as you were previously led to believe.

Zombie dinosaurs

Again, if you click on this, it should enlarge, and you can see it more closely.
My fiance asked for a parasaurolophus eating a Toronto Maple Leaf. I tried.

I did a very little bit of artwork for the Zombie Dinosaurs promotion, some background imagery, but didn't finish it. Instead, I napped last night. I was totally exhausted after getting home. Napped twice, up briefly for a pasta dinner (thanks), and then back to sleep until Heroes.

Tonight, another big evening with The Leafs playing the Ducks (hopefully on t.v.) which will give me some tim
Publish Post
e to work on the novel (leaving the zombie-dinosaurs some time to rest).

Monday, October 20, 2008

Zombie Dinosaurs

Yesterday I drew up another image for Zombie Dinosaurs and a header, but for now, I'm just going to post the reworked image you've already seen. I may sit on some more of the artwork until later - but I'm going to hand onto the idea.

I think clicking on these should bring you to witness them in a much larger format.

I'll be able to draft up a few more elements to add to the images and really make them look awesome. By doing some crude trees, destroyed cities and mangled bodies, or hordes of zombies, there could be some awesome scenery to add to these pictures. The different layers I can add with photoshop should make these deep and interesting.

With some regret, I spent very little time on the novel last weekend, and in fact, didn't even really add anything new. I'm in a tough spot where I had hoped the ending I was looking for was going to work out, but upon careful review, now that I'm finally there, it doesn't appear that it's going to work out as planned.

That means it's going to take a bit more concentration to get it just right. Although I'm hopeful to spend lots of time working on it (when I'm not drawing zombie dinosaurs) now that there are hockey games on regularly and the baseball playoffs are wrapping up. That's quite a few hours in front of the t.v. without any especial care to paying attention, paid.

Should be great. Until then, talk to you later.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Maple Leafs Challenge & zombie dinosaurs

Maple Leafs Challenge
The Maple Leafs Challenge went online last night and is officially running. Updates are up as I post this, and you can see that there is a current four-way tie for first place with 4 points after the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Leafs by a three-goal difference.

More details at the Challenge's homepage.

I've learned how to play "So What," acoustic - Suckas!

Awesome new project that I will have to sit on for over a year, I fear
And an early preview of the dinosaur-zombie project for the future. I actually had the most fascinating insight to a great zombie story earlier on this morning while Shelley and I were out. It's pretty cool - it's got me very excited to work on this project.

Anyhow, I hope this initial promotional image helps to get you excited, too.

The tag line will be "Unbelievable Stories - unbelievably awesome stories," or something like that. It's enough to make you think you're on LSD (so I've heard).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

First off: Hockey stuff.

One, in the Maple Leafs Challenge, a major event took place last night with the 0-0 tie after overtime. That was like a 10 point score. Someone would have scored a lot of points with that! I didn't think that sort of thing ever happened, but ... well there you have it. This Leafs team might make all kinds of expansion-team things possible this season.

I was really excited all night (for the most of three periods I was watching) as the 0-0 was looking more and more possible! I'll make an update on the tutorial page later on today - perhaps in the early afternoon. I have an appointment at 11 a.m., but will be free after that.

Second: I scored four goals in pick-up last night, which was awesome. After having that awful shoulder for most of last week, I was really hoping that things were going to work well, and they certainly did. Granted, the goals didn't involve much dekeing around or anything, it was still satisfying to get a few shots in the net.

Most of the goals were from great passes by other players, so you should really be asking for their autographs ... but none of them score four goals ;)

I'll post more later - thanks.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Novels, zombies, dinosaurs and fun

Here's a little story about myself that I haven't talked about on my blog at all, but talk about a lot for the past week.

During a pick-up hockey last Friday I ran into a guy, Kirk, and we collided pretty hard. Normally, skaters dodge around me like like a bus goes around a corner, but I guess he didn't see me, and we ran into each other. Simply put, I've never played contact hockey, and this was easily the heaviest hit I've ever been a part of. Kirk said that he was okay, and I said I was okay, but man ... the next morning my shoulder was destroyed.

Now, it didn't bruise, but I couldn't lift my arm up over my head. It ached whenever I moved my arm. It got a little better each day, and by Wednesday it felt so good I was excited to go back out and play some more pick-up at the Ice Park.

Sure enough, in the warm up, just shooting the puck caused the pain to return. By the end of the night, the pain was so bad that I concluded I'd have to go get an x-ray the next day if the pain kept up - I figured there was more serious damage than just a bruise.

So I came home, put some ice on the joint, popped some Ibuprofen, and hit the sack. Thursday morning it felt fantastic. I mean, it was still tweaking, but otherwise, it was just fine. So now I'm in a predicament. I've got hockey again tonight, and after Wednesday I was sure I was swearing hockey off for at least a week to make sure the thing heals up alright - but it's feeling so good right now that ... well I'm thinking I'm going to get back on the ice.

That's my dilemma, anyhow. I'm probably playing tonight.

The novel
After doing a brief review of Chapter 7 from Part 2, I was gearing up to do some work on Chapter 8, when I realized - that's going to be the last chapter! There's nothing after that one! I suppose I'd write an epilogue to explain how some of the characters wind up after the story finishes, but that's about all the writing there is. And this is important and exciting. First, it'll be finished very soon. After that there's just some editing and refining, perhaps some changes, but basically, it's just the finalizing stuff and the book is ready to print. That's very very cool. I've been working at getting this done for almost a full year.

The second part is that this could very well be done just before the next Nanowrimo begins, and that's important because I want to get back involved on it again. The Choose Your Own Adventure novel should be a lot of fun to get back to work on, and I'm hoping it will go very well. I also hope that it doesn't take a year to complete. To be fair, I've already got about three week's effort spent on this project, so it's well underway. Whatever work was done prior to November won't be included in the 50,000 word goal for the competition, though.

Dinosaurs attack

I don't know what these are all about - but I like them, and want to do a set of my own. Basically, they're cards (like baseball cards) that tell a story of a time rift that opens up and brings dinosaurs back to wreak havoc on humanity. Simply, they're pictures of dinosaurs destroying people (and their belongings) for about 40 cards, and then there's about 15 cards of people blowing dinosaurs up. The complete deck tells the entire story. I guess it's like a comic book. You can see for yourself at the link.

To draw and write a story just like this would be a dream come true! What a neat project. Another item for the back burner. Perhaps it will be a choose your own adventure, dinosaurs vs. zombies, card collection - if that's possible?

Zombies of Resident Evil

Watch that if you're interested in seeing the graphic evolution of zombies from the first Resident Evil game to the latest.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NHLPA president is an idiot

What's the first thing I've ever heard the new president (new as of the labour strike that cost Ted Saskin his job) of the NHLPA say? Join the NHL, we don't kill players.

Seriously, after NYR's first round draft pick Alexei Cherepanov died during a game, the NHLPA says:
NHLPA boss Paul Kelly, in an interview with Sportsnet's Daren Millard Tuesday, was hesitant to endorse the KHL, even though it represents bargaining leverage for many of his union members. "If any player came to us for advice about whether they should move from the NHL to the KHL we would give them our honest, candid view," Kelly said. "We would certainly ... point out to them that you're not going to get any better facilities, medical attention, emergency treatment that you will find here in North America in the NHL."
Is this really a time to be marketing your league vs. theirs? Seriously, pulling some PR move to make their league look worse than yours is a weak step. A step that you can't argue is directly linked to marketing your product, the NHL - and marketing is to make money. This isn't a jump to conclusions: Paul Kelly is trying to profit from Cherepanov's death. You don't even have to read between the lines. Just disgusting.

A lawyer from Boston leads the NHLPA.

And I'm not arguing this way because the article by Mark Spector uses the word 'endorse' (piquing my interest in marketing): in fact there are enough errors with his grammar and spelling that I wouldn't put too much value in his word selection. Rather, I watched the interview on tv this morning, and Kelly was simply touting how great North America and the NHL are versus the opposition - in a story where the opposition was fundamentally unfit to care for a player in its league. It just blows my mind someone would use this as a marketing tool, the day after a boy dies.

Tasteless if you ask me.

What's next? Player agents touting that their firm doesn't touch little boys?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy thanksgiving

Not too much going on this afternoon. I've got an assignment for In Business Magazine due shortly - but I'm still having trouble tracking everyone down to get the interviews finished. I'm in some luck that they are American, mostly, and they aren't on holidays this Monday.

Besides that - it should be an interesting article about electric cars and the infrastructure they will require to be useful in the new market. Indeed, for Windsor to be able to function with electric cars, customers will have to be able to recharge them wherever they are. This could mean plugging your car in at parking garages, parking meters and ... well anywhere you'd park your car.

Another feature will be recharging your car overnight on a recharging timer, so that you can use electricity to refill the batteries while the rates are lowest (in the middle of the night).

Along most of these notes: I don't think I've linked my work from the latest edition (Oct) so, here it is. If you're not thrilled with opening .pdfs, then don't click on the link. If you don't mind, then you can read it here and now. It's about laid off employees going back to school for retraining and new skill sets so they can embark on new careers instead of being stuck in a factory in an increasingly unreliable manufacturing economy.

Not the greatest or most interesting, but relevant to the world I live in down here in the city. I've got to finish the newspaper tonight, as well, so there will be lots more work to be done before the end of the holiday ;)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Better with pictures?

I present you with a question - are you more likely to read a post if there's a picture?

You tell me.

So there are pictures in this one, as an experiment.

First, apparently dinosaurs were able to get this big because they ignored chewing their food.

Because they swallowed plant material whole, they needed massive guts to allow enough time for it to be digested - and hence an enormous body.

Having no chewing jaws also meant the creatures could have small heads supported by long necks.

Although this gave them tiny brains in relation to their bodies, it offered the major advantage of gaining access to vegetation other animals could not reach.

Other factors, such as high growth rate, flexible metabolisms, and egg laying may also have helped to keep the creatures large, according to two experts writing in the journal Science.

The article does not explain what evidence there was to suggest this hypothesis - I mean, I could guess that it was those round stones that some big animals swallow to grind their food up in their stomachs because they don't chew it thoroughly enough - but there's no mention of it in the article. And those stones are old news, so I don't know what the news story is for.

And speaking of old news:

The search for the Loch Ness monster ended today October 11, 1987, leaving the legend of the mysterious animal still alive. No evidence was found that could confirm the existence of the Loch Ness Monster aka “Nessie.”

According to the Newspaper

“The hunt ended up focusing on three sonar blips that showed objects in the middle of the 754-foot-deep loch. The most significant blip depicted an object at a depth of about 620 feet, looking like an inverted V,” reported The Gettysburg Times on October 12, 1987. “Video film taken by the team meanwhile showed that the famed ‘gargoyle head’ photo of Nessie, taken in 1975 by The Academy of Applied Science in Concord, N.H., was really a rotting tree stump about 20 feet below the surface. Expedition leader Adrian Shine, 38, said he couldn’t deliver ‘the media monster’ that the more than 300 journalists who flocked to the loch wanted.”

NOTE: The three-day hunt cost $1.6 million and was a huge media draw. Although the legend of the monster may have dated back to the sixth century, sightings of “Nessie” gained more attention in the 1930s when an English surgeon, R.K. Wilson, claimed to have taken a photo of the legendary sea monster.

And that's all that came up today.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Novel updater: Oct. 11

I've got great news. I've finished chapter 7 of part 2. What does this mean? It means I'm getting closer and closer to finishing this project.

Simply put, I started writing this novel almost a year ago. Almost. It was a project born from the idea of participating in Nanowrimo, meaning you're supposed to write 50,000 words of a novel in a mere month. The idea is simple - you've always wanted to write a novel. C'mon. You've had an idea in your head for ages and you've never just gone and done it.

Well, Nanowrimo is the excuse you need to get off your ass and get 50,000 reasons you're going to finish a novel down on paper. Well, I did it last year, and kicked out the minimum words - and then I hit a major bump in the road. After Nanowrimo is done, the pressure to continue is done, too.

But I'd like to have this novel done before the next Nanowrimo takes off. More easily said than done. There is light at the end of the tunnel, though. With the completion of the seventh chapter tonight, I'm about two chapters away from wrapping this baby up. And that is very encouraging.

Especially if this month still has a few weeks in it. I guess what I'm trying to say is: I'm excited to have this book almost done, but I'm more interested in commiting myself to writing as a hobby and making progress on personal projects like this more of a regular thing. My next novel idea is pretty good, and I'd like to be able to put the one I'm working on now aside without worrying that I'll never finish it.

Also, I think it will be a real feather in my cap if I can get it published (privately - I seriously doubt a publisher is going to pick it up) and sell a few copies (I'm thinking of printing 20 - a next to cost: I'm not looking to profit very much from this, and certainly don't expect to make even close to minimum wage for my efforts). Maybe some day this project will be worth something, like a Patrick Marleau rookie card, or something. ;)

Novel Update
Part One:
1 prologue
18 chapters
111 pages
64,447 words

Part Two:
7 chapters
54 pages (2 more)
33,100 words (2,071 more)

Total novel:
1 prologue
2 parts
25 chapters
164 pages
93,414 words (2,071 more)

Sorry blog

A blog is kind of like a pet, if you don't pay attention to it every day, it dies. How does a blog die? People quit reading it, and if they do that, they you quit writing, and then it ceases to be.

Anyhow, instead of treating this like a pet rock or a cactus, I'm going to take better care of it. No more ignoring it for 72 hours at a time, right?

rigt now, the Leafs are making people say: "Ah ha! That's more what I was expecting." The Leafers are way down right now, 4-0 to Montreal. If there are any point-worthy events that happen tonight, I'll be sure to include them on the Maple Leafs Challenge homepage.

And no sooner do I write this, but the Canadiennes are now up 5-0. Three power play goals against in one game might be an event worth some points. I'm not sure - but I'll surely have the update posted tomorrow.

I'm writing some more of the novel while watching the game this evening, so later on tonight I should have another update on that, too. It will likely be titled, Sorry Leafs.

Hi, I'm Jason Blake. I don't really contribute anything to this team - but I complain that
I'm not being called up on to contribute the way I think I should be contributing.

And for the record - I continue to fail to see what value Jason Blake provides the Maple Leafs.

* Sure enough, as I'm typing that, Jason Blake scores. But, so does Montreal, so ... who cares, right?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Red Wings have the worst record in the NHL

So how are the Leafs looking tonight? Here are the things that I liked, the things I didn't like, and what progress was made in the Maple Leafs Challenge as a result of the game.

Be sure to stay tuned for updates over the next few days to see how the challenge will work, and how exciting it will be. I'm still trying to see how it's all going to play out - I haven't done this sort of thing before - but I'm sure the learning curve will be quick (though I won't promise that it will be easy) and things will be running smoothly by Saturday the 18th.

How'd the Leafs look? Well, I'll admit that the Red Wings f-ed up when Chris 'No-Good' tried to clear a puck from his crease on a power play, and played a quick match of ping-pong with Pavel Kubina, who tossed it in the net.

Chris Nogood blows it in the first period against the faithless Maple Leafs.

Call me what you will, but I almost wish the Maple Leafs had hung on to D'Arcy Tucker and got rid of Jason Blake. I suppose Blake was a newcomer to the franchise, whereas Tucker had too much indoctrination in the miserable results the Leafs have produced lately. But Blake, I have to admit, is basically invisible during hockey games. And what's worse, he complains that the coach isn't using him properly and that's why he's struggling.

This is the first sign that this guy has to go: he's already resisting the coaching staff's direction. Whatever you want to call a guy who doesn't believe in his coaching staff - Blake is one of them, and there's no room for someone like that on a rebuilding team. Or a young team. That attitude cannot wear off on the younger players.

Other things I've noticed - Pavel Kubina changed his number to 77. I don't know why, although he was born in 1977 [if he thinks using his date of birth will help his stats *cough Crosby cough*] but he's no longer Mr. 31. Even in Tampa Bay, Kubina wore no. 13 (which he couldn't wear due to a certian unsigned Swedish hold-out, who isn't destined for the Hockey Hall of Fame).

At this point - the Maple Leafs score a second goal, and now lead 2-0. The most unimpressed person I've ever seen after a goal: Ron Wilson. It's like he just took a mouthful of really dry roast beef.

Alright, game over. Not bad. Unexpected, and just fine with me. Just like the first preseason game, let's plan the parade.

Leafers start it up tonight

Meaning I get to start the Maple Leafs Challenge
Tonight the tutorial for the Maple Leafs Challenge will be running, and it coincides with the first game of the NHL's regular season for the Maple Leafs, making this evening doubly exciting! I'm looking forward to it a lot, and hope that I can get comfortable with the stat tracking for the Challenge. My guess for tonight: 4-1 loss for the Leafs.
Zombie attack made out of Legos? Apparently there's something called 'BrickCon' where Lego building enthusiasts use customized blocks and their imagination to build an awesome Lego universe. Yet they can't keep it safe from zombies despite the thousands of archers and knights that are present.

There has been some discussion lately suggesting that dinosaurs in fact survived extinction - twice. For a long while scientists have discussed how there were two major extinctions in the Mesozoic era depleting many species of dinosaurs. These extinctions can be found during the epochal periods of change between the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic, and again during the Late Jurassic and the Early Cretaceous. The big extinction that everyone likes to talk about is the Late Cretaceous extinction when dinosaurs' luck ran out.

Well, this article titled 'Dinosaurs survived two mass extinctions' argues that the extinctions which the dinosaurs survived came before their terms in the Triassic and Jurassic. The argument is that because of an extinction, dinosaurs were able to prosper - so they weren't ruling first and surviving second - but rather they were surviving first and flourishing afterward.

More exciting than any of this stuff is my acquisition of Event Horizon earlier in the week. It should be arriving in the mail in the next two weeks - and it's going to be awesome! One of the creepiest movies I can remember, and the cast was enthralling. I'll review the Dvd in a few weeks when it comes in.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Maple Leafs Challenge - update

Registration is now open and all of the details surrounding the Maple Leafs Challenge are available.

Just visit the website for more details.

The Premise:
The Maple Leafs are likely to be absolutely uninteresting this season, and just like years of past, there’s just not a lot to look forward to. BUT that doesn’t have to be the case. While last year you might have been upset when the Leafs blew a three goal lead in the third period, now you can profit from it.

With the Maple Leafs Challenge, the idea is simple: you pick a series of ‘Events’ from the list of events, ranging from likely to unlikely, and receive points for each of them as they happen throughout the season. The player at the end of the year with the most points wins.

More precisely:
You select 25 ‘Events’ from a predetermined list of events which range from likely to happen this season, to unlikely. The most unlikely events are worth more points, while the likely events are worth fewer points. You want to select a personal checklist that will earn you the most points this season.

The goal is to tick off each event on your check list, earning points as you go. You earn points as you tick the ‘Events’ off. You can use the same event more than once, but you can only score it once as it happens. To score it twice, the event would have to happen twice, etc. For example, ‘Leafs win by two goals’ can be placed in the check list five times, but you can only score full points if the ‘Leafs win by two goals’ at least five times this season.

There will be a half-way point where you can make adjustments to your checklist. You can replace up to five (5) events on your checklist, and replace them with whichever events from the list you’d like. But you can only score if the event is active on your checklist. If you remove an event from your checklist for which you have already earned points, you will forfeit those points. The half-way point is Thursday, January 8, 2009. The deadline for new events for consideration will be January 3. New event suggestions can be submitted at absolutely any time up until January 3, 2009.

At the mid-way point players are also allowed to submit one event, which the league administrator will evaluate for level of difficulty, and then place it on the list. So, new options may be available. Events to be considered for inclusion must be submitted five (5) days in advance so that they can be viewed and considered before the mid-way point of the season.

Submit your cards by the first official game of the season (Saturday, October 18). This is not directly correlated with the first official game of the NHL regular season. Any latecomers will be given an average score calculated by the total score of existing players.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Maple Leafs Challenge

Maple Leafs Challenge update: I'm working on the website for it right now. It's not going to be very fancy, and it certainly won't be awesome, but it should have the sufficient service to give people updates and status reports as the programme moves forward.

You can see it here: Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Challenge!!

More details are coming, but they should be finalized after I've conferred some of them with another source. After that, I hope to have the .pdfs for registration and clarity available for download from the site.

AFTER that, I'll run a one week tutorial on how the system works, and get everyone clear on the procedures. Then it'll be time to get serious about this thing. It should be amazing.

Maple Leafs Challenge

The losing streak that Canada can't stop staring at:

The efforts to finalize what should be in the Maple Leafs Challenge, to make them interesting once again, had a huge step forward last night. As I'd figured, it took about one evening of plugging away at what I wanted to accomplish with it, and to consider the details, to get the thing ready to roll.

I drafted up some rules, I drafted up a point scheme, I drafted up a tracking system, and it should all work out relatively well. I'm going to have a friend double-check my work before releasing it to the public, but ... it's very close to being ready. And just in time. The season starts on THURSDAY!

SO - once this is given its final review, approved and finalized, you can expect an email advertising this thing. I may move the launch date to next Saturday - using the first two or three games as a tutorial so everyone sees how it's going to work, and then things will be set to go!

After finishing the rules and regulations - the next step is a website for tracking and following along. It won't be like Yahoo Fantasy Sports or anything - it'll likely look a lot more like the old Sigma Chi Road Hockey League website:

Align LeftSigma Chi Road Hockey League was awesome, and the website was functional - not sure I'll use HTML Frames for this new site, though.

But now, I've got to get to work. Yikes. See y'all soon.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

novel updater: Oct. 06

Well, things went well this weekend, and I managed to get about ten pages on the novel done, which is great. It's good to keep this rolling - and I hope to get a lot more done on it this week. Then there's a lot more formatting to take care of, but before that, it's just writing.

I may have another update later on today.

Novel Update
Part One:
1 prologue
18 chapters
111 pages
64,447 words

Part Two:
7 chapters (1 more)
52 pages (3 more)
31,029 words (1,992 more)

Total novel:
1 prologue
2 parts
25 chapters (1 more)
161 pages (4 more)
93,414 words

Hockey, novels, and a promise

The NHL's Great Race

The Toronto Star's sports columnist Damien Cox has outlined the hype of the new NHL season succinctly, and it's all about a scoring title race between Ovechkin and Crosby. The two of them should be fighting it out tooth and nail to try and win the Art Ross Trophy, we should expect.

Simply put, we technically haven't seen anything like this since Gretzky and Lemieux were battling it out for the title in the late 80s. The pros of this are: they're in the same conference, meaning they can go at it head-to-head in many games each year. That makes things a lot more interesting from a fan's perspective. The second thing is, they're both breaking into the league at the same time, which is something that Lemieux and the Great One hadn't quite done.

Lemieux was beating Gretzky when he was just a rookie entering the league, and then he got injured, cancer and retired before he could make the kind of impact on the league that he could/should have. Still, it's hard to believe that Lemieux and Jagr only had the two Stanley Cups during their reign at the top of the charts.

The Novel
I'm going to try and get another page or two on the novel finished today. If I can get another 10 pages done this weekend, that's a fair accomplishment.

I promise
And my apologies still - for not having the Maple Leafs season thing ready yet. I promise by Monday night, I'll finish it, and I'll roll it out on Tuesday morning.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Novel updater: Oct. 04

As promised, here's a novel update from what I managed to get done (in my otherwise officially very lazy day).

ALSO: here is some of the advice that Batman would give Robin. Every protege needs a mentor that's willing to instruct like these two. What a great hero Burt Ward would have become.

Novel Update
Part One:
1 prologue
18 chapters
111 pages
64,447 words

Part Two:
6 chapters
48 pages (7 more)
29,037 words (4,053 more)

Total novel:
1 prologue
2 parts
25 chapters (1 more)
157 pages (6 more)
91,422 words

Running man - marathon (figuratively)

Well, the NHL season is on, meaning that I'm watching the Tampa Bay Lightning duke it out with the New York Rangers. So far, 1-1, but that'll end before the game does.

BUT the important thing is I want to kick some ass on my novel. With Nanowrimo coming up in November (and my plans to make headway on the Choose your own adventure novel during that time) I set a goal to finish the first draft of my novel. The problem is, I'm not closer than I ever was to having this thing done.

SO - novel marathon. This weekend, (which is technically starting at 2:30 today) will begin. I'll have a post later on to demonstrate the progress I've made so far.

I don't know if there is anything else that's particularly interesting going on just yet - I think the Leafs are going to get toyed with by the Red Wings again shortly - which is a bit tough. I'm looking forward to watching the Penguin's game tonight against the Senators. There is a lot of star power in that game.

I realize that I really like watching the star players have big games. I want to watch Malking, Crosby, Heatley and Spezza toss up a load of points during a game. Watching them succeed is real awesome. It's like following along with history being made before your eyes. You get that feeling when you're watching Ovechkin and Crosby, not so much with the others. Watching Lecavalier in Tampa is pretty neat, too.

Lecavalier does some neat little moves all the time when he's playing - they don't usually turn into much (mostly turnovers) but he still shows you little flahses of excellent hands and a great vision on the ice.

I'll try and have some more updates on the Maple Leafs season game, too. I've got to have that wrapped up shortly before the season starts.

Anyhow, I hope your weekends are great.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pachyrhinosaurus lakustai: then the good stuff

Here's a neat dinosaurs story: A guy, Al Lakusta, found a bone bed back in 1974. Being a science teacher at a school in Grand Prairie, Alta., he secured the rights to unearth what was going on there, and was making some serious progress. But, as the years went by, the rights to fossilized remains grew - now fossils have more rights than you or I. You can't breathe on them if you find them, without a Phd in 'getting a permit to unearth that stuff so long as your a paleontologist.'

So, Al lost the rights to unearth the bones, and to his chagrin, didn't have much use of the bones if he could unearth the complete skeletons. So, he donated the bones to a museum - but the discovery isn't going unrecognized.

The species of pachyrhinosaur will be named after Al - the Pachyrinosaurus lakustai. So good on him. I know that Gary Larson was honoured the same way when an entymologist put larsoni at the end of some insect species back in the day. He thought it was an honour - although who knows the Latin extensions to dinosaur names? Other than rex, nobody. Seriously, who's heard of a Tyrannorsaurus baatar?

Moving along - tonight I've got hockey, which should be great. My throat has felt awful over the last three days, but each morning it seems to feel better. I snagged some Buckley's from the pharmacy in the CAW Centre, and it's made a helluva difference. So hopefully I'll feel fresh enough for hockey tonight.

While I went scoreless in the CNHL last summer, I'm fairing a bit better in the pick-up style of play. There's more ice time and people aren't as serious about you playing your position. Plus, it doesn't matter a tick whether or not we get scored on. So it's a great chance to learn some new moves and get comfortable with shooting the puck and carrying it around the ice surface. Lots of ice time, too. Almost too much, to be honest.

And, there are two things that I don't go a single day without thinking about: my novel and the Maple Leafs challenge. It's going to take some serious dedication to have this stuff ready [deadlines: novel by November 1 (before Nanwrimo) and Maple Leafs by Oct. 8]

Good thing there's a weekend coming up, eh? Hold me to it, and I'll get some progress reported - and then we'll have a good time watching the Leafs this season.

Talk to you later.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

CHOKE & Halloween special leak

The Simpsons' upcoming episode of the Treehouse of Horrors series is going to have the Simpsons turn into zombies, and then roam the streets for brains, which should be neat.
Indo-Asian News Service
Thursday, October 2, 2008: (London)

Characters of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons will be transformed from a parody of the average US family to zombies, the flesh-eating corpses, in an upcoming episode for Halloween.

The family of five with yellow skin turns into a deathly grey pallor "after they are turned into the undead in the annual Halloween episode", reports

The episode forms part of the annual Treehouse of Horror series, which has been running on The Simpsons since 1990.

In the episode, lead characters Homer and Marge Simpson find themselves roaming the streets of Springfield with their three children Bart, Lisa and Maggie looking for humans to eat.

And we finally saw Choke last night. We were out and on a whim, wound up at the Silver City. I decided, if the movie were to start soon, then it was meant for us to be there to watch it. Sure enough, it started at 7:50 and we rolled in at quarter to 8. 

And we were the only two in the theatre, which is to be expected considering the absolute deign of advertising that has been committed to the film. Beyond entering it into film festivals, I can't imagine that it's going to get noticed anywhere. But that was fine, it was a personal screening for a film I've been looking forward to for months.

So, how was it? Not bad. To make this quick, I'll provide a review from the Sundance Film Festival, and comment as I see fit. (Quicker to write, not to read, suckas!)

Fans of author Chuck Palahniuk (and trust me, there's a lot of them) have been waiting a long time to witness another one of his fantastic books show up on the big screen. The first Palahniuk adaptation, of course, was Fight Club, which was handled flawlessly by director David Fincher and featured sensational performances from both Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. Choke is an entirely different book, one that relies a little more on comedy, and first-time director Clark Gregg (who also penned the script) decided to turn this adaptation into a straight-up laugher that really works ... some of the time. While I'm a huge fan of Palahniuk, his books and especially Choke, there's only one reason why I would recommend you check out this film, and one reason only: Sam Rockwell.

[I agree - you could tell in a variety of instances that this director was a bit of a rookie. The performances from the different actors were fine, and the story-telling was competent, but the big scenes that should have been given the dramatic presence that a proficient director gives to a scene, was lacking.]

Rockwell plays Victor Mancini, a scheming sexual addict who, along with his dopey best friend Denny (Brad William Henke), work at a historical re-creation theme park of sorts, where folks dress up in 1800's period garb and give tours to anyone who'd like to see what it was like to live back then. When Victor and Denny aren't getting in trouble for doing something very un-1800's (like reading a newspaper, chewing gum), Victor heads out to restaurants to physically make himself choke on food in an attempt to get a wealthy patron to save his life. It is his goal to bond with this person, to share in the ecstasy of their heroic efforts, and then take advantage of their kindness -- that mutual experience -- in the hope they'll send him money for living such a tough life. Victor then uses that money to help pay for his unstable mother's (Anjelica Huston) long-term stay at a high-priced mental hospital.

Problem is, Victor is having trouble affording his mother's care, and she's deteriorating at a rapid pace. She doesn't recognize Victor, so every time he visits her, he's there as someone else from her past. Meanwhile, his hunger for sex increases daily (despite attempts to attend a sex addict's group), and he's starting to fall for his mother's new nurse. All he seems to care about is finding out, from his mother, who his real father is before she dies. With help from the new nurse, Paige Marshall (Kelly Macdonald), and his friend Denny, Victor will try to not only save his mother's life, but also solve the other half of an increasingly daunting puzzle.

Without Rockwell in the lead role, this film might have suffered greatly. Not only is he one of the best under-the-radar actors working today, but he perfectly captures Victor's sleazy, self-deprecating charm. The adaptation itself isn't as good as Fight Club, but it's definitely not bad. The scenes in the hospital are all very funny, as are the sexual addiction stuff. There's a scene where Victor finds a girl that wants him to role-play the part of a rapist/intruder that had the entire audience rolling. The supporting performances are decent enough, with Angelica Huston being one notable exception: as always, she's pretty brilliant in her role as Vincent's messy mother.

[Yeah, the actors were alright. The unfamiliar faces lent to the very indie-style filming of the whole project. It was clearly low budget and struggling to be produced quickly and easily. The sets were far from elaborate, and many tight-shots were likely out of necessity as the mis en scene would have been intruded by the locations they were filming at. Think of buildings, passers-by, and stray dogs being in the shot, calling for close zooms to ensure private encounters between Angelica Houston and Rockwell.]

Fans of the book might not be crazy about a few scenes that were left out, including the stoning at the end which director Gregg said was shot, but didn't turn out well because of budgetary reasons (he hopes to include it on the DVD). My main problem with the film had to do with the instrumental score, which, in my opinion, was way too hokey. It cheapened the film; it made it play like a direct-to-DVD teen sex comedy. Additionally, the flashback scenes that show a young Victor and his mother were distracting. Not the scenes themselves, but the way Gregg chose to transition to them, with this sort of "whooshing" sound with a fade to black and then back up again. Of course, there's so much in the book that, as a fan, I would've liked to see fleshed out more, but like with any adaptation you're going to lose some (or more) of your babies.

[Agreed. The flashbacks in the novel were of a completely anarchistic mother who was hell bent on disestablishmentarianism. It just didn't seem the case in the film. Likewise, the scope of the flashbacks were so limited visually that you felt they were filming them in a corner. As for the score, a more experienced director could have made better use of the accompaniment to increase dramatic effect, express despair, or even make the film more fun. Instead there was an absence of emphasis in what I believe are key plot points, more deserving than what they got.]

Ultimately, Choke is really a film for the Palahniuk fans who've have been waiting years to see this book come to life. Those who didn't read the book, but loved Fight Club, will dig the well-written voiceovers straight from the brain of Chuck Palahniuk himself. However, casual moviegoers and non-Palahniuk fanboys will probably shrug Choke off as yet another comedy with a few hysterical scenes and not much else.

One of the clutch elements of a Palahnuik book is the expressive narrative and unique perspective (esp. toward sex) that he can capture. While Victor narrating the film, in soe places, borrowed that voice - it certainly didn't frame every scene like the novel can. Palahnuik's inescapable tone and grace has an aggressive desperateness that's linked to a man's underpinning basal instincts drives readers into a state of mind. From that perspective, nothing that his characters do can dishevel your attitude. Again, the director would have had to have done some very experimental filming to capture that attitude, although the flash cuts of Victor humping random nurses at the psych-ward served to try and capture that narrative. 

There were some scenes that didn't make the movie, which were scenes that I would have included in a heart-beat. The stupid little boy's self-deprecation was missing entirely, which I felt was a profound insight to Victor's character. He was supposed to be self-loathing for his entire life, which I felt offered him so much more hope in the end as he's "discovering" who he really is. 

The mother swapping hair colours from the hair dye aisle in the drug store was another big one. Her muchracking spirit to free the world of their delusional embrace of society just seemed missing or unimportant. 

And the paramount scene of the book, the scene that changes your entire perspective on all the events leading up to that moment, was rushed into the conclusion so quickly that it's almost not given its proper due. Think of the Sixth Sense without the brief flashback scenes of Bruce Willis' character being ignored all throughout the movie. You'd never realize that you were being misled throughout the whole movie without that scene receiving its proper due. In Choke, that moment passes you by so quickly that the actors are required to spell out the consequences of the twist in perspective - an admission of its weak expression. 

But for all of that, the funny scenes you're looking forward to, are there. The raunchy sex scenes and the consequences that come of them, are there. The twisted things that people do to scrape by are all in this film. Be sure to read the book shortly afterward. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hi October, I think I'm sick

So my fiance and I went out to watch 'Burn after reading,' last night, and it wasn't quite what we had bargained for. I think one of the more important things to remember, and it was a big clue that I didn't pick up on during the commercials, is that it was directed by the Coen brothers.

Brad Pitt is a dumb-ass gym employee who plots t exchange some 'classified high-up shit' with the Russians for a 'Samaritan's reward.' He headlines a long list of irredeemable characters who fill this movie.

What does direction from the Coen brothers mean? Well, the last film they did was called 'No country for old men,' which was a dark film about a psychopath (kind of like Two Face) who let's his victims flip a coin, without telling them why they're flipping it, and then decides whether to let them live or not, according to their results. Sort of. Of course things were a bit more complicated than that throughout the film. But the point is, it was a darker film with an unusual antagonist.

While being billed as a comedy, 'Burn after reading' is about some employees at a gym (Hard Bodies) who find a disc on the floor of the gym, and believe that it's classified secrets, when in reality it was a combination of a ex-spook's memoires and his financial statements that his wife had gathered in preparation of leaving him.

The plot revolves around the gym employees believing they can sell what they believe are classified secrets, to the Russians, for big bucks, which one of the employees is intending on using for cosmetic surgery so she can reinvent herself.

This is not unlike 'The lady killers,' which was another dark comedy with a colorful cast that were in pursuit of easy money, but were undone by their own actions and greed. A plot line that doesn't deviate too much from 'Burn after reading's' efforts.

I think the movie is awkward because you can't like any of the characters that are in it. George Clooney's character (Harry Pfarrar) is a three-timing, jogging, private protection officer who becomes paranoid that someone is following him all the time.

Frances McDormand plays Linda Litzke, who wants four cosmetic surgeries so she can reinvent herself, and will stop at nothing to get the money to do so, and she doesn't listen to anyone around here, ever.

John Malkovich's Osbourne Cox is an alcoholic cuckhold who quit from his career as a spy after being demoted for being an alcoholic. His marriage is precariously thin and his wife is a 'cold bitch.'

Tilda Swinton plays Malkovich's bitch wife who wants nothing to do with him, and she happens to be two-timing with Clooney's Harry Pfarrar. She has intentions to divorce Malkovich and take all of his money.

Brad Pitt plays Chad Feldheimer, a block-head fitness enthusiast who keeps getting cajoled into trying to get more classified secrets for Litzke, and trying to collect his Good Samaratian money from either the Russians or Malkovich.

And as all of these characters fall into the game and pursue their own ambitions, things get messy. I suppose that's where the humour of all it finally comes through - they hardly all know one another, yet they're somehow all interfering with each other's wishes.

If this sounds like something you'd be in to, then check it out - but it's not as funny as 'The lady killers,' so you've been forewarned.