Saturday, July 31, 2010

I'm Feeling Fenced In

Because I have a fence now. you see. That is what fences do, keep you or your animal contained in the property. Emily had enough of my wandering and propensity for getting lost. Even though fences make you not so lost, they do make you a little bit tired after building them. So now, I am going to sleep, and you can go get lost.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Your Very First Thought When Reading This Sentence. . .

"Their going to the store, because there parents will be they're."

A) That is one bad writer, who need to be flogged by a Orange Crush soaked noodle!!!

B) That poor writer must have a really awful editor, and the writer should have that person jettisoned to the moon. The moon is lacking incompetent editors.

C) The writer must have had a really rough day, because obviously he'd never commit such an error normally. I should buy him a beer.

D) Meh, that looks about right for this blog.

If you chose option D), then I'm totally kicking you in the shin. Well, only if you promise not to hit back. I hate it when people do that.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A 'Far from the Madding Crowd' Review: Where I Have The Gall To Critique A Classic

Most critics don't spend much time reviewing works that are a year or 10 years or over a century old. Part of that reason is due to the fact people tend to turn to critics in order to find out if a movie is worth watching, or a game should be played, or if a book is a good read. This means a critics main job is to review brand new products or works of art so the consumer knows if it is worth investing time and money into. I believe another major reason is due to the fact an older work is often already established in the culture, and the masses have already deemed its value. A critic probably shies away from reviewing popular but older works because there is the risk of formulating a review that opposes the established consensus. This isn't to say older works aren't reviewed, but it does say a critic may be antsy about panning Godfather or Mona Lisa.

I personally think there is a lot of value in reviewing established classics, and deciding where they fit into today's culture. Plus I have no reputation as a critic to salvage, so if my opinion deems me a hack with little taste for fine arts then I'll happily sit in the corner with my Mad magazine and bag of Cheetos.

Now, with all that firmly established, I today come forward with my attempt to review Thomas Hardy's best known novel, Far from the Madding Crowd. The novel was initially published in 1874, and was quickly heralded a classic. The novel for the last 50 or so years has been acclaimed as an early work of feminist literature, despite being written by a handlebar moustache wielding man. It has been deemed a profound piece of literature by scholars, and has been studied by students in numerous academic institutions. Actually, this is how I got about acquiring my copy of this novel, because it was required reading for the Women in Fiction course I took in University. Since it was required reading, I decided I should eventually get around to reading it, especially since I wrote an essay on it for my course back in 2008 (need to find out if I wrote things that actually happened in the novel).

Deeming something a classic is all good, but the question is, is it a book that would be interesting outside of academic walls? Is it a book that I would recommend you to read? After all, there is a lot of works of literature that are bestowed with the title of 'classic', and most folks don't have the time required to read them all, along with the other tasks in their life such as expanding their purple lint collection. Of course, I could save you more time by just saying 'read it' or 'do not', but I haven't been overly wordy for a few days, thus I'll provide my answer in the form of several paragraphs of tasty words.

The initial publishing of Far from the Madding Crowd, as previously stated, was in 1874, but it was significantly revised in 1895, and then again, in 1901. My copy doesn't specify which edition is mine, but I think it is safe to assume it is the 1901 edition. From my experience of collecting classic works, the store sold copies are usually the latest editions, unless specifically stated. Even though the revisions are said to have been extensive, I'm positive my critique would be relevant to any copy you happen to have found lounging about in Grandpa Guffman's spider haven known as the attic.

The first thing that will jump out at the casual reader is the raccoon that is hiding behind the boxes of old . . . oh wait, I am not talking about the attic anymore. In the book, the first thing that will jump out at you is the language and writing style. Thomas Hardy's first love was poetry, and it has been said that he wrote novels as his source of income, in order to allow him more time to write poetry. I'm sure if Thomas could have made a good living from solely poetry than novels written by Hardy would never exist, but luckily for the women fiction classes, that isn't the case. But his passion for poetry is very prevalent in the novel, as the writing style is very poetic, and even the characters often speak in a poetic and lyrical fashion. The dialogue reminded me a bit of Shakespeare, though that comparison is far from exact or accurate. The love for language and the creation of art through sentence structure is something shared by both writers. Hardy's focus is definitely on creating clear visual images and making the written words his chief focus. The novel does have a plot, and it would not be fair to say the story is secondary, but I do feel that the writing style and descriptions of the setting are just as integral to the novel for Hardy. Some chapters were almost entirely devoted to describing a snowfall or the rolling hills. There are definitely modern novels that put a great deal of focus on visual descriptions, but Hardy's focus on natural settings exceeds almost any other written work I've encountered (as an English literature major, I'd say a book or two has crossed my path). I think, most can appreciate the skill and beauty involved in artistically forming a visual image of nature through the written word. Hardy is undeniably skilled at it. I am sure there is many that would have their patience tested having to read through a plethora of paragraphs describing how the wind tosses about a leaf.

The best way to prepare a reader, would to clarify this is not like a modern mainstream novel. The first focus is not necessarily on the plot, and it is work that has closer similarities to Romanticism. Hardy is not trying to write realistic dialogue, or even trying to create a world that is grounded in reality. The descriptions are steeped in fantasy and glorify the country side. The dialogue is whimsical and poetic. In many ways, the descriptive beauty counter acts much of the tragedy that takes place in the story.

There is one other elements of the writing style that makes this novel stand out, and that is the narrator. This novel isn't written in the first person, and the narrator give no inclination he lives with or near the characters. Unlike many third person narratives, the narrative is not impartial. Though the narrator never introduces himself or even gives a single inclination it is a character, the narrative clearly has a personality. Throughout the novel, the narrative, or narrator, will give its opinion on a matter or describe how it views a character. I've never really seen this done before in a third person narrative, and it can be quite jarring at first. Once you torn through the first 100 or so pages, you sort of get used to the rather partial narrative your accompanied with. I do have to say that I wasn't a huge fan of this style because I felt it took me out of the story at times and made it hard to connect with some characters, but I definitely give it a trillion points for creating something very different (those points are redeemable at the local WalMart, but I sense Hardy won't be collecting them).

This is still a novel, and so the story is a key element of deciding if you would be interested in reading this already declared to be classic. Hardy's novels are known to be tragic, but Far from the Madding Crowd is not only his most famous but also known as his cheeriest. Despite saying that, Hardy's proclivity towards the tragic and brooding is definitely seen here to an extent. It's not a novel that will fill one with the desire to do cart wheels down the sidewalk while humming joyful tunes. At the same time, this is also clearly a love story, and one the explores the value of loyalty, hard work, and friendship. The story itself is not completely original, as it is the classic love triangle, except the triangle is a square. It is the tale of one beautiful women who is sought after three men rather than the typical two. Much like most love stories, it is established very early which couple the reader should be rooting for and want to see matched up. Of course, like any good love story, that pair has quite the hurdles to jump before they have any chance of uniting (and since the novel is written by a lover of tragedy, I'll leave it up to you to guess if it ever happens -- or you can read it to find out for sure).

The central character is Bathsheba Everdene who is a strong, independent female who inherited her uncle's farm land. This is considered an early work of feminist literature due to the fact that the main character is a female, and she is also depicted fairly positively considering she owns land. Though this is considered a pro women novel among some, I have to say if this was written today that there would be many who would be negative towards it. It may have been deemed feminist at the time (which with all due respect was a time when women were viewed very differently by the majority of society), it is undeniably rather sexist today. Not only do the majority of the characters talk rather disparagingly of women, but the opinionated narrator often will say things like 'smart for a women' or 'went against typical women inclinations.' Bathsheba is often described as being successful because she was able to fight off her womanly urges. Even then, when she does make major mistakes (this is actually quite often) this is blamed on the fact she is a woman thus it was bound to happen. It is clearly implied woman are a weaker sex, and lack important things like logic and strength. Even though Bathsheba is an independent woman, it is made rather clear in the narrative that she will be better off when she is married, and this proven by the fact her eventual marriage is the key point of the novel. So while there are elements of the novel that make it seem like an early work of feminism, it is still clearly a product of its time and littered with sexism.

I also really don't see Bathsheba as the main character even though most scholars and essayist deem her so. She is the integral figure who drives the action of all the other major characters, and the impetus for most of the major events that unfold. She isn't really the character that the readers are left to empathize with or even the character we follow from the start of the novel to the very end. Gabriel Oaks, the loyal employee and friend of Bathsheba, is the true main character whose journey we follow from the start of the tale to the end. In a story where almost every character has a debilitating flaw, Oak is the stand up figure who sticks to his values and maintains a strong character, and most importantly, suffers great pains in order to protect and support dear friends. Oak stands out so prominently amongst the rest because the other main character are hounded with such defective traits. This isn't to say the other characters are evil or entirely negative, but they do allow there emotions to overcome them to make rash and tragic decisions. Oak is a sole representative of a figure who is able to control his emotions and heart, and makes decisions that are for the greater good. These are the key reason why I see Oak as the true main character of the novel rather than Bathsheba who is used to drive other characters' motives.

Far from the Madding Crowd
is definitely a significant book in English literature history. It is a book with vivid language and beautiful descriptions. The novel embraces the rural lifestyle, something which was slowly being eliminated even when originally composed by Hardy. Though it is set in the real world, it is full of elements of fantasy and imagination (though more of the poetic kind rather than the leprechauns and fairies variety). Even the setting created by Hardy, Wessex, is a fictionalized version of Southwest England, and contains several fictional cities such as Casterbridge and Weatherbury. Hardy was unlikely the first to create a fictionalized county, but his great imagination is displayed by his ability to vividly describe the life and look of the area. His skill in description is truly what makes this novel a masterpiece. This same attribute may be a deterrent to some readers. I admit there was times that I felt like skipping a few pages, because I had my fill of learning how the snow flake fell from the sky. My tastes for story don't usually lean towards a novel like this, but I can acknowledge this is a well written novel that is quite beautiful in its poetic form.

Saying all this, I know there are several other classics that hold up better today, and contain stories that would appeal more to a modern audience. This story is a good one, but has been told before and has been much better. That isn't why this novel is a classic, but rather its art of description and prose. If that isn't something that excites you, then I'm sure you will find many other novels more to your liking that are still considered classics. I still believe this is a novel that deserves the praises it has been given, but I also think its appeal is only for a select few. If you decide that you are not going to try to read this novel, then at least google Thomas Hardy. I am sure he has an interesting story, but I am more interested in you checking out the man's handle bar moustache. It is quite powerful.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This Man Loves His Job

Then you find out this wasn't at a wedding or gig, but rather in his wife's walk in closet. Either way, he seems to love what he does.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dogs Don't Play Cards (Well)

I was a little lonely and bored this afternoon, so I decided it would be a perfect time to teach Summit how to play 'Go Fish.' Right after I went through the trouble of dealing out all the cards, Summit proceeded to snack on his card hand. I understand his strategy, because he was now the only player with the coloured glob of mush. Since he is the sole owner of the mush hand, he was the winner.

But still, eating cards isn't really how you're supposed to play the game.

Which means that painting of the card playing dogs is the biggest lie ever. Though, there isn't any Bernese Mountain Dogs in the picture. Maybe that is the problem?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sometimes, You Just Feel Like. . .

. . . a turtle trying to get out of a bucket, but fails, thus trapping yourself in that bucket for the remainder of the day.

Okay, maybe I'm being too literal. But you can empathize with the turtle.

You can probably guess that this isn't the best day of his life. Right?

My weekend on the other hand, was not a "trapped in a bucket that I was trying to get out of" kind of weekend. It was more of a "had an amazing time at my brother-in-law and brand new sister-in-law's wedding" kind of weekend. Which usually makes for a rather spiffy and nifty type of weekend.

I also got to eat a lot of samosas. And samosas are very skilled in the art of making me and my belly happy. And that is exactly what they went about doing this weekend.

Yes indeed, my weekend was not like that poor turtle's, but I still feel bad for the guy. Maybe he has a samosa in his shell, in order to make things a little better.

I'm off to play 'paid writer' for a few hours then I've got my big person job to do after that. So, I'll leave you here now and you can watch that turtle video over and over again.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

There's Some Cat Hair In My Ice Cream

Mmmmm. . . Chocolate Crosby Chunk Surprise. The surprise is that it's a cat!

For those keeping track, this would now be picture number 2, on the blog, where Crosby has got his head stuck in an object that once held food. I've for the longest time assumed he does this because he is eternally hungry and constantly scavenging for any food morsels he can find. But now, I am beginning to believe he is just in search of a very fashionable hat. I don't mind the look, but it seems to be a little big.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I Think I Saw That Episode. . .

In video form, this is very, very, very funny. In real life form, I am pretty sure I would jump into 'Kung Fu Action' mode in about 3.85 seconds. Then in about .10 seconds after that, I would find myself on the way to intensive care, because I seriously pulled something in my back and about 27 other parts of my body.

Of course, there would be the relentless fury of rage punches I would suffer, because I have feeling Emily would have a problem with me having dinner for my first date too. Though, I don't think it would be the dinner part she would be bothered with, but the whole, the girl isn't her part.

If you enjoyed this as much as I did (the video, not my wife's fictional rage attack), then be sure to skip on over to our dear friends, College Humor.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Hey Christopher, What Are You Doing This Weekend?"

Hey, thanks for asking. I'll be venturing off to Toronto for a weekend of merriment and glee.

"Oh, so you'll be watching that hit new TV show about high school singing? Why not just do that at home?"

That would be Glee. I'll be there for the wedding celebration of my brother-in-law and soon to be sister-in-law. It should be fun in a can, except not in a can. In a hall. Or at least, I've been assuming up to this point the festivities are not being held in a can. I should verify that.

"Well, it should be really nice to have a wedding in the country's capital."

No, you ignorant slut. The capital of Canada is Ottawa. Toronto is the capital of Ontario.

"Isn't Ontario and Canada basically the exact same thing?"

Well, it is true that Ontario is basically Canada. Though 9 other Provinces and 3 Territories might have a slight problem with that statement.

"That is only because they are jealous because they can't vote."

No, no, no, your idiocy is proven once again. They can vote, but only after Ontario and the moose herd do.

"Wow, you are a wealth of knowledge!"

I know. I am pure genius. Your life is better because of me.

"Yeah, I'd be useless without you!"

You still are. Actually, I don't even know who you are.

"I'm some fictional person you've made, so you can distract all your readers from the fact you are once again not blogging anything of worth."

Oh yeah.

"Do you need me for anything else?"

No, you can go off being non existent again.

But you know what won't be non existent?

An awesome weekend!

I hope you get yourself one of those, while I do some wedding celebrating. But even though I'll have whisked myself away from the internet, this here blog will still be delivering daily doses of content punches. When it comes to punches, those are the very best kind.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Toy Story 3: The Pixar Dynasty Continues

The original Toy Story was released in cinemas in 1995, and instantly became a cinematic classic. The original gained mass appeal for two major reasons: its cutting edge technology (first animated feature to be entirely made of CGI), and it was genuinely entertaining to both children and adults. I believe those two reasons played a big part in revolutionizing how the animated film industry functioned from that point on. Though, the technological innovations were a massive factor in the film's success, I actually think the story being written to appeal to all age groups was the biggest factor in its lasting success and influence.

I recognize that cartoons have always had an appeal to certain adults, but it was the original Toy Story that turned animated features into products that are clearly marketed to a very broad audience. Films like Snow White or the Jungle Book have always done gangbusters at the box office, but they were undeniably labeled as children or family films. Toy Story was one of the first films where adults without children would freely go to see the production without having to point at a child and claim, 'Um, yeah, I'm with that kid. Honest, I'm not seeing a kid movie alone!' Because the movie was legitimately seen as a blockbuster hit and must see without 'kid film' attached to the end. This was partly due to the fact the CGI effects were so innovative and buzz worthy, but it was also because the story was extremely well written. And it wasn't "well written for a kid's movie" but actually, just a well written movie. Period. The film was jam packed with jokes and references that were written solely for an adult's amusement. Yet the film still was able to be a colossal success among children, thus creating a merchandising and branding empire that has consistently remained strong from 1995 until today.

This strategy and model was then blatantly copied by 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks' animation studios to create their own massively successful franchises in Ice Age and Shrek respectively. Both of those films followed the CGI route, but also produced stories that were clearly designed to appeal to both children and adults. Toy Story, Shrek, and Ice Age all have pop culture references and jokes that were written specifically for adults, but still created characters that are marketed towards children. All three franchises have been indisputable successes, but Toy Story was the film to usher in this 'new' animation era and arguable has been the most successful.

Yes, there are definitely three major profitable animation studios (four if you want to argue that Disney is/was separate from Pixar), but when it comes to the company that is a consistent financial and critical winner, then you have to give the edge to Pixar. When it comes to Pixar, the crown jewel of the animation empire is none other than Toy Story.

Now, after all that praise, the question remains does Toy Story 3 live up to the legacy and hype? Before going to see the movie, you are almost destined to have the lingering feeling that the film is set up to disappoint. How many franchises have been able to deliver three consistent hits? It has happened on a rare occasion, but the reality is, sequels are usually about as enjoyable as doing self appointed dental work with a power tool. The odds of success are even less likely when you dip in for round three. Plus there is the whole problem with the film having an eleven year wait since the previous installment, which leaves a lot of time for over hype and high anticipation.

But you know what?

Toy Story 3 is a fantastic movie. And note, I didn't say, a fantastic kid's movie, because once again, it is a film that appeals to all ages. I legitimately laughed out loud on several occasions, and was sucked into the story from the very beginning. When it comes to an animated feature that can be enjoyed by an adult, Pixar films are far more successful than the other two studios. I recently watched Ice Age again shortly after seeing this film, and I was shocked to realize how far above the story and writing in Toy Story is compared to the other film. The most unbelievable thing about that, is the more appealing film for adults is completely based around children toys. Then again, maybe that is why the film is such a success among adults, because many of the characters are toys they can remember from their own childhood. At the beginning of Toy Story 3, I was letting out a huge burst of laughter and nodding my head knowingly once the Troll dolls made a cameo appearance. Their inclusion had to be an obvious wink to the adults in the audience, because I'm pretty sure the toys would be considered 'collector's items' now (aka kids today don't want or know them).

Toy Story 3
follows the lead of its predecessors by being an absolutely fun movie for adults, that still contains a warm and family friendly message. It uses the toys as a way to convey the themes of friendship, love, growing up and loyalty. The movie displays that over time things can change and relationships are redefined, but the love and connection will always remain at some level. The film also pushes the idea that good memories are invaluable treasures, and a gem that may sometimes get buried over the passage of time but is never completely lost. These really are messages that have to be considered fairly deep for a supposed 'kid movie', and the type of stuff that is often not even effectively explored in 'big people movies'. But Toy Story 3 is extremely successful in making an emotional connection, as well as just being a lot of fun to watch. That is the most important part of all, being a fun movie. When I walked out of the theatre after the film, I legitimately felt I was just as entertained and impressed with the third as I was when I first saw the original. Of course, I haven't seen the first one in a very long time, thus haven't made a fair comparison, but I do know both movies proved to me to be more than just kid fluff but actually, great cinematic accomplishments.

Now, I admit that Toy Story may be a film that I can relate to more than your typical adult. Because when I watch Andy or some of the other children on the screen play with the toys, I can actually see myself as a child. I was the type of kid that absolutely loved playing with toys. I didn't have many neighbourhood kids my age, and so I spent a lot of quality time with just my toys. Much like Andy, I would often create my own worlds and story lines with my toys, and would immerse myself completely into this fantasy world for hours. It didn't matter that He-Man was three times taller than my Han Solo figure or that my stuffed Wuzzle didn't seem to fit with my Megatron, because in my toy world, they all found a way to work together to form the bigger story. I cherished my play with the toys and I still have fond memories of them. Actually, to be completely honest, I look forward to one day having a child of my own, because then I'll have an excuse to revisit that world again.

If you were ever a child that enjoyed entering the world of make belief with their toys, then Toy Story 3 will be a film that will bring back those great memories. If you weren't one of those kids, then you will still enjoy a funny, warm and exciting fantasy adventure. Yes, Toy Story is still a technological marvel with amazing animation, but even more than that, it is a story that connects with everyone from kid, adults and 'grown up' kids, too.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oh Yeah, Well Summit Can Make An Indoor Pool! (Of Drool)

Though admittedly, that is kind of gross, and this video is pretty much the coolness.

You may have already seen this, because I've come across it on several websites and blogs already. Just in case you haven't, I'm here to enrich your life just a little bit more. Because my blog is good like that.

Yeah, I'm a geek.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

10 Random Thoughts Attempting To Be Profound Quotes

I usually try to save my short thoughts for content on Twitter or Facebook, but I'm in short supply of time today and I can spew out these suckers quicker than Queasy Quintin after chugging 6 months expired milk.

10. Love is anonymously making a person happy.

9. Working at home means to everyone, but you, that you are perpetually free to babysit their kids or water their lawn when they're not around.

8. The second greatest challenge in life is figuring out when time is more valuable than money and when money is more valuable than time. The first is trying to make a great first impression while reeking of alcohol and cat urine.

7. If you constantly hold your child's hand and tell them which path to take throughout life, then they'll always miss the treasure buried in the bushes.

6. What is right for you, is right for YOU.

5. The biggest problem with many religious groups is not the theology, but the opposition towards those who question.

4. Authority figures and elders are the ones who should be required to show the most respect.

3. Any person can judge, but a great person understands.

2. An expert is often someone just like you, but they get paid for it.

1. Beware of the one who speaks in bite sized quotes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

"It's not been a blockbuster year for me financially. My Blockbuster stock is down." - Micheal Scott

Words of wonderfulness from The Office.

Actually, you probably shouldn't be looking into buying any Blockbuster stock. The company that was once a massive consumer powerhouse is now about 6 months from being extinct like the dinosaurs or Wuzzles. There is a very interesting article by Matt Zoller Seitz which laments the inevitable collapse of Blockbuster (okay, it has already collapsed, but it still has a few wheezing breaths at this point).

I can relate to the feelings of the article quite well. In high school and college, if we weren't going to see a movie at the cinema on the weekend, then we'd probably find ourselves scanning the aisles of Blockbuster. I made several visits a month there, and watched a countless variety of videos. Of course, I also remember even back then thinking the place was overpriced, and lacked any kind of selections outside of the mainstream, big production company films. But it was fun scanning the aisle with 6 or so friends, and breaking into spontaneous discussions about our favourite movies moments or how a certain film impacted us. It was incredible fun to find that rare gem of a film that you never heard of before, but interested you because either it had an actor you loved or it appeared to have the potential to be the greatest train wreck either (in the case of former Breakfast Club cast members, the film could be both).

I'll stop here because I want you to read the article, because it is a good one. It explains why Blockbuster's days are most likely numbered, but also explains that even though it had a lot of faults, there is reasons it will be missed.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Woah, I Totally Wasn't Expecting You. . .

I'm a little indisposed at the moment.

You'll have to come back tomorrow.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

This Blog Needs More Cowbell


Now that is out of the way, how was your Saturday? Mine was a pure dose of fantastic, despite the fact it lacked a disturbing amount of cowbell.

Friday, July 16, 2010

I Really Strained To Give You This Picture Of My Cat

Emily is adamant about using the colander to wash most of our food.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Knock, Knock. . .

Who's there?

Not me.

'Not me' Who?

No, serously, I am not here today. Time has once again not been my friend, and any free moments that I had for blogging has now been gobbled up by the "I'm Busy" monster. But don't worry, he can't hold his food and my time will be regurgitated back up tomorrow evening (where I can then come up with a new excuse for why there is no blog).

So, what do you do, now that there is nothing to amuse yourself with here? Well, there is probably a road you can play on or maybe a lake you can jump into.

Or you can skim the archives. There is some actual blog posts here that have words and paragraphs and wit. Well, the last part may be arguable.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Busy Day Means No Post, But Here's A Puppy!

Well, a picture of one. That is almost better, because you can enjoy his infinite cuteness but not worry about training him where to do his business. Or more importantly, not having to get up at 3 in the morning to make sure business is an outside thing rather than an in the crate thing. Believe me, you'll appreciate that.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Would You Rather. . .

So, last week when we were suffering through the 'Great Heat Wave of Skin Melting Evilness of 2010', Emily asked me this question. 'On a humid and hot day, would you rather put up shingles on a roof or lay asphalt on a road?"

I gave this question some very serious thought. I realized, that both options were absolutely dreadful, but under the rules of 'Would You Rather' (established during the 'Great Snooze of 1917'), I had no choice but to choose one.

So, my answer was that I'd rather drink a beer while wallowing in a kiddie pool. Emily didn't seem to appreciate that answer since apparently it wasn't an option. I then tried to distract her with a pretty piece of tin foil. That was when I was reminded she wasn't a cat.

So, I picked shingles. Yes, you are elevated thus being attacked by that evil rising heat. Plus you are now even closer to Mr. Sun and his rays of utter damnation. But it is not asphalt. Asphalt is sticky and smelly and already very hot. When you're in conditions of total heat-tastic-ness, do you really want to throw more hot things into the mix? So, shingles win here, and actually, Emily presented the above scenario to me (but I was still thinking it -- along with the beer and kiddie pool which is still the better option) thus agrees.

There you go. Ponder on that questions and be distracted by the fact this blog has been continually lean over the last few weeks. But you see, it is smart to be lean during these hot times we live in. My blog is just trying to stay comfortable, that's all.

Monday, July 12, 2010

RIP Cardboard Box

A few weeks back Emily picked up a cardboard box, and asked me if we really needed to keep it or if we could finally recycle it. I agreed its days of usefulness had run out and it was probably time to send it off to that big recycling plant in the sky (or at least, the one outside Brantford -- it might be on a hill?)

You see, this box entered our lives like many other boxes do, it was used to carry in our groceries because we're too cheap to pay five cents for plastic bags. But our time together did not end there, but instead it became a resident for probably close to two years.

You see, there was one other resident in our house that instantly saw something in this box that no one else could. He saw it as a great place to sit in. Thus the box instantly become Crosby the Cats newest 'comfort zone'. Some animals like beds or pillows, but Crosby preferred the box. Now, this isn't to say we didn't have a 'cat bed', but he did think the box was much better at meeting his needs.

The box became the place Crosby would spend a lot of time. It was where he would occasionally sleep. It was where he would contemplate the greater mysteries of life (such as, why don't my "parents" feed me more?). Of course, it was the place he would whine for food.

We quickly realized this was an object that Crosby really was fond of. While we were trying to teach our cat to actually sit and wait for his food, we realized the box would be very helpful for this training. So for the next two years, Crosby learned the box was the place to run to and sit in when it was time to have his meals. It became a pretty effective way to train Crosby, and stop him from dancing all over the house singing his 'I Want To Eat' song (which didn't actually have those lyrics or any lyrics).

The box became an extension of Crosby and was a place he went to when he wanted to gnaw on plastic or stare at the window. As many things in life, it began to change. Last September, the Spicer family got a new addition, and if you are following this blog then you know it is Summit. In Summit's early days, he took chewing everything. The cardboard box happened to be a thing. The cat was also a thing, but he took to chewing him much later. This meant that we needed to start hiding the box away from Summit, if we didn't want it to turn into wet, strips of goo. We would pull it out any time Crosby was about to eat, but for the rest of the day Crosby had to find new comfort zones.

If you've looked at some past pictures on this blog, you will notice that Crosby now has an elevated fort like thingie (that the people at the pet store call a Cat Tree, but you're not supposed to water it). Since at the very top Summit cannot reach him, it has now become his new place of comfort.

This is why I was now left with the inevitable task of throwing out the trusty cardboard box. Though it has done us much good in the past and been a good friend for Crosby, it was no longer needed.

So, I say 'RIP Cardboard Box, you probably won't be missed, but it was good to have you around when we needed you.'

On a much happier not, Summit is now a year and one day. For his birthday, we rewarded him with solitude in our house while we had fun at a BBQ in Sarnia. He may not have had much fun on his birthday, but at least his parents did. To make up for it, he was given the greatest birthday gift a big, black, thick-coated dog could want -- cool air. Cool air in the form of an air conditioner. I think, I'll like it a bit too.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Those Poor, Rich Health Insurance Companies

During the massive political debate in the United States over the health insurance reform, there seemed to be one group that was being completely neglected. This video is their opportunity to have a say.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

What Made My Saturday Spiffy?

I had a wonderful date with a beautiful woman at a delightful bistro on a patio looking out over the Grand River. Pretty and delicious. Well, the river probably isn't all that delicious but my cheese and bacon burger fell under both categories.

A lunge-free walk with Summit, which always makes for some spiffiness.

I ate popcorn with that fantastic white cheese topping stuff. Hey, I take pleasure in small things. Especially small things with tasty kernel goodness.

I watched some gunslingers save a Mexican village from vile bandits. Because if that doesn't make for a rather spiffy day, then you have no soul (or are a bandit).

Did some 'house window shopping', because when you own a house, looking at homes you don't own is actually pretty fun. I don't know why, but it just is.

That my friends, is why my Saturday contained some healthy doses of spiffiness. How about yours?

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Blog Goes A Little Bit Country

So, this would fall under 'guilty pleasure' song. You can laugh and poke sticks, but I am still going to like it. Well, depends how sharp are the sticks, because my pain threshold is only so strong. Okay, I'll cave even if they're at butter knife levels. Anyway, I don't really know much Michelle Branch music outside of this song, but I enjoy 'Sooner or Later,' even if the lyrics fall under 'opposite of deep and profound.' And no, I have no clue what that is on her head in some of those shots.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

My Current Status

Despite my previously violent video used to depict my response to the heat and humidity, my skin is remarkable still on my bones.

Though, I may have lost some weight due to partaking in an activity some like to call 'sweating buckets.'

Since this is no good, I had to find a way to gain weight. Emily and I immdediately swept ourselve over to a place in Hamilton called August 8. We then gorged ourselves on copious amounts of sushi and Dim Sum. If you are near the area, you should check it out for the all you can eat at lunch.

Mmmmm. . . sushi and dim sum.

So yes, my day was good, and I didn't allow the vile heat to get me down. I am talking about the heat that comes from the Sun and not from Miami. Though, I won't let them get me down either, even though I'll be pointing fingers and laughing if they don't end up in sniffing distance of the NBA Championship this season (though by all rights, they should have done the proverbial 'bought' a championship this year).

All my day needed for near perfection was a cold bottle of beer and for this annoying scanner to stopp pestering me. But he gets his way, because he pays my mortgage.

Well, he doesn't literally pay more mortgage. That would be a little too 'Skynet' scary for me.

If you didn't get my previous pop culture reference, then my readers really are not an assemblage of geeks.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Today, I Feel Like This. . .

But a lot less Nazi and wanting to steal the Ark of the Covenant-y. But the melting, oh the melting, the heat definitely makes me feel like this.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Because It Is Tuesday. . .

I give you this courtesy of Happy Harry Toon. This may be one of the coolest parodies of trying to make a Saturday morning kid's cartoon out of very adult source material. And this cartoon probably would actually be pretty cool compared to Rambo and the Forces of Freedom, which was very real and not an attempt at parody. Shudder.

But this my friends, is complete awesome in a can. . . er, video.

Monday, July 05, 2010

DUDE! You Haven't Written A Real Blog Post In A Bajillion Years!!!

Yeah, I've been resorting to lots of cute animal pictures and 'hilarious' videos lately rather than 'real' posts with delicious and nutritious words. But for the record, it hasn't been a bajillion years, because a) I haven't even been alive that long, b) I'm not sure if there is a bajillion of anything and c) hot damn, is a cold beer great in this skin meltingly hot weather. Yeah, option 'C' had nothing to do with bajillion, but it had to be said.

As I am sure any long time and alert reader of this blog can tell, a post with mainly pet pictures or video clips means my day didn't provide lots of time for sentence creations on the blog. This past week had a 'long weekend' attached to it, and I made the rather selfish decision to have a life rather than stay chained to the ol' computer. When I was at the computer, I was actually trying to compose written work that real live people with real live money will willingly pay me. I've decided that along with working my regular job and finding time to spend with my gorgeous wife and adorable pets as well as with my pretty radical collection of friends, that I want to make a very concerted effort to concentrate on getting paid writing work. I've been fairly successful for someone who started with no real portfolio, but ultimately, I want to be able to turn this into a viable and full time business. I've decided today that my goal is to have my writing become 35% of my overall income by September, which I think is reasonable but also means, I need to write, write, write, and write some more.

What does this mean for the future of this blog? Well, absolutely nothing. . . hopefully. I have every intention of keeping this thing for a very long time, (a bajillion?) because I enjoy having a place where I can write whatever I want and it is a safe area to continually refine my writing skills. It does mean I need to get much better at my time management. It also means that on days I don't have too much work, I'll hammer out a bunch of blog posts and have them post dated. Essentially, my goal is for you to not notice a thing other than the fact I just revealed my master plan. Once I get in my groove and do find time to write multiple blogs at one time, then my 'cop out' posts will be kept to a minimum. Of course, just for kicks and giggles, I'll post animal pictures on days they decide to be extra adorable for the camera. I also hope at some point, to be in a place where I'm posting more than just one post every day (but that will be reserved for when I have readership levels past the roaring twenties and it starts approaching larger digits).

Anyway, we will now return to our regularly scheduled program. Which for me includes a large, comfy bed, because my alarm clock intends on interrupting my sleep at 5. Jerk.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Just One of Those Days

Well, maybe not exactly a 'put a cone on your head and lay your stomach on the floor' kind of day. That would have to be a very intense and 'my head is doing a Scanner's impression' kind of day. No, this would be more of a 'been real busy but not much to show for it' kind of day. But for you, it has been 'look at Christopher's cute puppy' kind of day. Well, I'm sure you did more than that? Right? RIGHT!?!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

That Is One Tough Baby Cookie

A few weeks back I dragged out a several year old video in order to not have to write a post. . . um, I mean, I entertained you with a hilarious video from the website of non stop comedy, Funny or Die. You may remember this particular video was about an overly tough landlord that wasn't ready to give a poor tenant a break, and of course, hilarity ensued. Well, this is yet another video starring this fantastically funny comedian. Oh yeah, Will Ferrel is in it too.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Summit's First Canoe Trip: A Pictorial Tale

How did I spend my Canada Day yesterday, you ask?

This is how, I answer.

After Summit had successfully conquered the land, we decided it was time to test his skills on water. As you can see, he was up to the challenge.

It took a whole 2 minutes for Summit to figure out there wasn't actually a lot to do in a boat. But I did offer him a chance to paddle for a bit, but he informed me wooden objects are only good for fetching and chewing.

Summit is pondering life's great questions. "I wonder, will I get chicken frame or organ meat for dinner?"

It's a hard life at sea. . . um, the Grand River.

Meanwhile, back at home. . .

Thursday, July 01, 2010

When the Blog Gets Patriotic

I hope all Canadians had an absolutely fantastic Canada Day, and for everyone else, I hope your Thursday was lovely. Since it was Canada Day, I thought it would only be appropriate to play a little 'Oh Canada' to close out the day. Though this version may not be the one you remember.