Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Geek Out Time


Is it Thursday yet?

No.

Okay, I was just making sure.

I write and podcast about movies all year and this year I have so far seen 140 movies from 2017, which is not counting all the movies that I've seen that were released from previous years. I don't just watch this movies, but I analyze and dig deep into them. I've been writing and podcasting about movies since 2012, so it is safe to say I have not only seen a lot of movies, but I've learned to appreciate what works and doesn't work in movies. My expectations for movies has risen over the years and I would say I have a pretty high standard. I am not just easily wowed by the latest big special effects extravaganza and not lured in by the hype.

Yet here am I once again a giddy fan in December in great anticipation for the latest Star Wars movie. For the last three years, a Star Wars movies has skyrocketed to the top of my most anticipated for that given year. I have also loved the two most recent Star Wars movies, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens landed number one on my best of 2015 list.

I declared in the past that my all-time favourite movie forever and ever has to be the original Star Wars. It is what spawned my love for movies and it is the story that inspired me to write fiction. It was my childhood. I write about movies today because of my deep love for Star Wars. I openly admit that I loved The Force Awakens so much because it allowed me to plunge into my nostalgia and the moment the open crawl came on, I became that enthusiastic little boy again. It brought me on the adventure once again.

I love movies and this has been a great year for them but if I could only ever see one movie each year, it would always be the latest Star Wars. Every time the new movie approaches and it is about time to return to the galaxy that is far, far away, I become that overjoyed and unrestrained child again. I am filled with optimism, hope, joy and dreams. Star Wars is that intoxicating and spiritual movie going experience.

Watching so many movies has made me very critical. I go into most movies ready to analyze and dissect. I am there to watch and enjoy, but I also have my reviewer hat on. But with Star Wars, I may also be reviewing it, but it is the one time in the year I am a total fan who soaks up the adventure.

Star Wars is why I keep on loving movies. And I'm ready for another great thrill ride. It is the one movie that I review that I admit to full bias and going in ready to love it all once again.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Feedback Time: Is 'The Movie Breakdown' Podcast Too Long?


For the first few years of The Movie Breakdown podcast, I would say the average length of the show ran about an hour with some approaching 90 minutes or more and a few hovering around 50 minutes. I think that is a pretty respectable podcast length that doesn't fill up an entire afternoon but also is long enough to deliver a good amount of reviews and movie discussion. 

Then in 2015 we tried for about 9 months a different format where we had a less structured approach where we discussed a variety of topics and didn't even always review movies on certain episodes. Those shows approached closer to 90 minutes and sometimes were much longer. Scott and I both decided we preferred the format where we review four or five movies a week and had pre-planned movie discussion topics. 

The shows went back to being around an hour, but then we decided to incorporate two new segment on top of the original five, one being where Scott looked at the box office of that weekend and another that changed from me looking at Rotten Tomatoes score that weekend to the big movie news of the week to reviews of trailers.

Over this past summer the show started going over two hours on a consistent basis. Scott and I decided that it was time to retire the box office and trailers segment to avoid the excessive run time (we didn't want to be the Michael Bay of movie review podcasts). But then a weird thing happened, this fall we noticed are shows were still creeping near almost two hours even with those two segment removed. 

We have discussed this and listened to past shows, we haven't really been able to solve why the shows have suddenly become so long. For whatever reason, we seem to be taking longer on the reviews and having longer discussions on our topics. The odd thing, is that for the theatrical movies, I am the only reviewing them so you'd think those segment wouldn't get too long. Yet here we are.

So my question for our listeners, have the shows become too long? Does it feel like we are dragging out segments or repeating ourselves too often? What do you think has made the length increase so much? Or are we worrying about nothing, and you think the lengths are just fine and the episodes have remained entertaining.

Please give us honest feedback so we know what we need to do and if we have to start working on strategies to tighten up the show.

Thank you so much for your help, and more importantly, thank you so much for listening to the show each week because it really means a lot to us. We look forward to making The Movie Breakdown even better in 2018.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Breakdown of Modern Film Criticism


This week's episode is being called The Breakdown of Modern Film Criticism, where we look and analyze how critics and reviewing movies has changed over the years. This includes looking at how Rotten Tomatoes has drastically effected how people see movie reviewing but also how there has been a new crop of film reviewers like popular YouTube film critic, Chris Stuckmann (pictured above).We also analyze if people perceive film criticism properly and also look at the backlash it gets from filmmakers. It is an in-depth look at the very thing we do every week on this podcast, so we hope you find it informative and entertaining. If you do enjoy the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Reminder that you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.

Friday, December 08, 2017

The Tale of Two Tentpole Trailers: 'Avengers: Infinity War' and 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom'


We are in the era that the first trailer is almost as hotly anticipated as the actual movie. It is also a very annoying era when people expect and demand major plot points revealed and storylines advanced in commercials. I've always been a fan of trailers and I remember as a kid being really excited to see what little sneak peeks I'll get at the theatre before the feature is screened. But I've always believed a trailer's job is to intrigue and leave us wanting more and have us asking lots of questions that would then be answered when we see the actual movie. In other words, they should not be the second Terminator: Genisys trailer.

The new standard bearer for great trailers has to be Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The trailer shows exciting sequences, there is tons of big set pieces revealed, but it leaves us with lots of big questions and speculations, but most of all, I feel like almost none of the actual plot has been revealed. I feel like I am going in as fresh as I can for someone who has seen the two big trailers.

This past week there have been two major trailers dropped for what probably is going to be the two biggest movies after The Last Jedi, and are the tentpoles and major summer box office hopefuls for their respective studios. Both franchises have had an instalment in the past five years that made over two hundred million domestic their opening weekend, and I am sure there are studio executives that are hoping for that same. My guess is that only one has a real shot at hitting the two hundred million mark this time (and may surpass by fifteen million), but at least the other one has a lot of cool looking dinosaurs.

Avengers: Infinity War (May 4, 2018)

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This is the grand mega event that Marvel Studios has been building up to for several years now (even Avengers: Age of Ultron felt less like a major event and more as a build to this one). Thanos has mainly just been making cameos or popping up in stingers expressing his love for pretty, colourful, glowing stones but trying to convince other people to do all the heave lifting. Now, Thanos is ready to rumble, and only the uniting of every single Marvel character that has appeared in a movie can stop him.

We get an appearance of Thanos without his helmet, and I have to say, hopefully, he keeps on headgear for most of the movie. We also see our heroes pretty dirty and somber, so you know they are taking a beating. The biggest selling point is that this movie will be crammed full of everyone, and the trailer shows almost everyone as advertised. Just seeing them all together isn't really enough to get me super excited, but rather the promise of them actually doing some interesting things together.

It definitely feels like a grand and epic event. The little hints of the action look really good, and we have teases of some interesting relationships like Scarlet Witch and Vision now being a thing and Iron Man being brand new buds with Dr. Strange. I have to say that even though everyone knew Captain America was coming back that I got a chill down my spine when Black Panthers says to get this man as a shield then the Captain comes from out of the shadows. It will be really interesting to see how Iron Man and Captain America interact with each other, as that has to be a thing but the scenes are probably best saved for the movie.

We know that someone from the team has to die, and maybe a few will be passing on. Kevin Feige has pretty much promised it, to the point of saying the title of the next Avengers has to be kept secret as it will spoil a death in this movie. As far as major hero-like characters, I can only think of two who have died in previous movies and even then, one was a villain for one of his movies and the other is a stretch calling him major.  It is the bold move that Marvel needs to make by allowing Thanos and his cretins kill off a hero and cause repercussions for movies going forward.

The trailer is obviously hinting at it being Vision, and Scarlet Witch does have bad luck with her loved ones staying alive. Vision is not an important enough character where him dying would warrant the title of the next movie. I even had to check IMDb to remind myself who Paul Bettany plays. My guess is that Marvel is smart enough to not drop any kind of hint as to who it is that actually dies and rather use the marketing to misdirect. My guess is that it will be someone really major, like a person who had his own movie back in 2012 or 2013.

Loki looks like he betrays Thor and the Avengers again, but that isn't really a spoiler. The big question is does Loki redeem himself and maybe even, does he sacrifice himself for the greater good? I feel like Loki has done about as much as he can do at this point in the story, and I would like it if he got a grand send-off.

I definitely didn't get the same amount of excitement or big questions like I did with The Last Jedi trailer. It was just seeing a visual representation of most of the stuff that was in synopsis or already being assumed from hype. Yep, all the characters are going to be in it. Yep, Thanos is going to be mean. Yep, there will be explosions. But it was well-made with a grand scale and Marvel's strong reputation is enough to keep this near the top of one of my most anticipated of 2018.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22. 2018)

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I recommended and enjoyed Jurassic World, but I haven't seen it since then and in my mind, it doesn't sit as well as other movies I've liked. It leaned heavy on the nostalgia and reminding us about the all the great things about the original. I also thought Chris Pratt played really well as the lead and offered something very different than previous protagonists in this series. I wish Bryce Dallas Howard had more worthwhile things to do, but she was great with what she was given (which was not very much). This trailer makes it looks like Howard will be more sucked into the action and become a bigger part of the story. Pratt is still the clear lead though, and that means he has got a pretty big summer ahead of him.

If Jurassic World called upon memories of Jurassic Park, then Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom has a story that calls back some memories of The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Both movies were about characters from the previous movie returning to the island that houses the now abandoned park, then try to protect the dinosaurs, and also avoid a group with some devious plans. They also both have Jeff Goldblum, though my guess is that his role in the new one is more on the cameo side.

While I am all for more Goldblum in movies, I am not really wanting to be reminded of The Lost World, also known as the first movie I feel asleep while watching at the theatre. I have never returned to that movie since sleeping during it in 1997 and maybe I need to make the plunge now, but if I made a worst of the year list back in 1997, it would have a prominent spot. I also wasn't a huge fan of the book that it was loosely adapted. So, I'm all for the new movie doing what it needs to do in order to not conjure up any more memories of the 1997 disaster. Hopefully, the tyrannosaurus rex stays out of people's backyards this time.

The story doesn't really seem anything new or exciting, and there is only so many fresh ways you can have people run away from dinosaurs. But in the positive, the special effects do look amazing, and some of the action sequences looks like they can provide some solid chills and thrills.

I am not crazy about this movie, but I also love me some big monster flicks. I hope this provides some jumps and maybe it is holding off on a cool dinosaur appearance for the big screen. I'll definitely be reviewing this, but the trailer didn't really lift me out of the zone of mild interest.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

I Miss My Dog More Than Friends and Family: A Thing You Are Not Supposed to Admit Out Loud


My beloved dog, Summit, passed away in the middle of November, and as we now dig into December, I'm still suffering from a giant paw shaped hole in my heart. I really miss Summit and the house still feels very empty. I have learned how much my days revolved around Summit, where the day feels incomplete without our daily morning and evening walks or taking him out through the day for his business or having him come over for pets while I'm trying to get work done. Every day since his passing, I feel like a dark cloud of sadness is constantly raining upon me and the depression that threatens to haunt me throughout my life has barged down the door. 

This isn't the first time that I've had to deal with death as I've lost grandparents, aunts and uncles, a brother (stillborn), a father-in-law, and friends, but this is the only one that beats me down with daily sadness and brings me to tears. This is one where the hurt doesn't go away easy. I feel like a different person ever since he died.

The above statement will probably trigger three type of responses from people. One will have people offended and annoyed that I would put the death of the dog above the passing of wonderful family and friends (who they may still miss dearly). A second will have those who secretly agree with me but would not dare to vocalize it. Then there will be the third, a small group that will openly agree and be able to relate to their own tough experience of losing a family pet.

I love my grandma and I had a decent relationship with my father-in-law. Both of their deaths did hit me hard and caused the tears to flow. I really wish my kids were able to meet both, but they passed away before my kids were born. After the funeral and being able to have closure, I never had another moment where energy sapping sadness struck my heart and soul. I had my moment and have been able to not allow the sad event affect my days.

In my younger years, I remember visiting my grandma often and even spending a week every summer at her house. I have fond memories of those times. As I entered my teen years, I mowed my grandma's lawn each week and still saw her at family gatherings. As I moved away from Brantford and then eventually returned, family gatherings during Christmas and few other sporadic times was all I saw of my grandma. I often kept feeling guilty that I should visit her more, but the reality was, I'd go months not seeing her or thinking about her too much.

I would say my relationship with my father-in-law was as good as I could hope for a man who was very introverted. I do have some fond memories of him and I respect the devotion he showed to his family. While I saw him a decent amount when I went to visit Emily while we were dating, once I married Emily then the interactions with her dad probably cut down to about once a month at the most. The point is that for both my father-in-law and my grandmother, I did not see them daily nor were they a major part of my routine. I love them and I miss them, but not in the same way that I feel about my dog. Yes, my very non-human dog, Summit.

I work from home, and I have for most of my marriage, which means that every single day I spent many, many, many hours with Summit by my side. I was his designated dog walker and the person that most often fed him. I was there for his most important experiences. If I was spending a day at home then it was a day spent with Summit.


I've mentioned many times that I struggle with both anxiety and depression. It is hard having those feelings when I know that I shouldn't, especially when I have a loving wife and amazing children. There are times that those emotions can be a bummer to my family. But Summit always accepted me, no matter if I was happy or in the gutter. He sat beside me or snuggled up against me no matter how I felt. It can be hard talking about my emotions, especially if I feel like I am just repeating what I've felt for several weeks straight. On those walks with Summit, I could say all the things that I had been feeling for months, and he did not care. He just listened, looked up at me, and was clearly enjoying time with me. In my darkest moments, I remember Summit coming up to me and letting me hug him and cry into him. He was a dog, but he was my greatest encouragement and support.

As these last few weeks have made me really sad and made me miss that always loving dog, it is tough not having him to hug or cheer me up. It is tough not having those nightly walks with someone who would listen and lean against if I seemed down. For those reason, I miss him more than I've ever missed any other person who I've loved.

I've felt kind of guilty over missing a dog so much more than other people in my life. But I have realized that it doesn't mean that I value him more or feel like the other loved ones were less significant to my life. It is just the true and raw emotions and feelings that I have, and are things that I can't control. He had been a major party of my days these past 8 years, and I probably have been with him almost as much as I have been with Emily during our marriage (during the dark days that I hide away from people, probably with him far more).

As we approach the end of the year, I have now accepted that I will be missing and feeling sad about Summit well into 2018. There may be a part of me that always will think about him. But what I am trying to do is keep the memories positive and cherish my time with him rather than to continue to mourn. He was 95 pounds of furry joy, and so, emotions of happiness are what I should cling on to each day

It also is a reminder how important it is for me to remain open and close to Emily. Even during this time where my energy is vanquished and I hate myself, I need to embrace, love, and revel in my family. I need to treasure each moment with my children, and throw myself into their excitement and joy. There is a lot of wonder and magic left in my life, and most of that comes from my children and wife. I need to keep on loving them, just like Summit did every day of his life.


Monday, December 04, 2017

The Breakdown of the State of Woman in Movies 2


Three years ago we did a Breakdown of the State of Women in Movies where we felt there was a shift in roles for women and they were going to start getting bigger opportunities. It is now three years later, to be honest things didn't really improve the way that we hoped and in some way it got worse. But 2017 had some very significant events, such as the huge success of Wonder Woman and Beauty and the Beast and director Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird becoming the best reviews movie ever on Rotten Tomatoes. There was also some real bad stuff like the revelation that several directors and key Hollywood figures have been involved in serious sexual harassment and assaults, but even that could lead to good as Hollywood tries to clean up and become a safe place for women. There is a lot to talk about regarding women in the movies, so we do exactly that in The Breakdown of the State of Women in Movie Part 2. We really hope you enjoy the show, and if you do, please pass the word to other movie lovers.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.




Monday, November 27, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Coco', 'Mudbound', 'A Christmas Prince' and 'Bomb Scared'


Only one movie made it to the theatre in Brantford this week, but it was a doozy, as it was the latest big Pixar animated adventure in Coco. The Movie Breakdown serves up a review on that movie along with three Netflix Originals. We discuss the streamer's big Oscar hopeful in the 1940s time period piece about racial tension and recovering from the war in Mudbound. It is Christmas time so we've got a review of the holiday romantic comedy, A Christmas Prince. Our final review is on the foreign comedy, Bomb Scared. As well, after the disappointing domestic box office of Justice League, we discuss if the Marvel formula is unrepeatable or if other studios have just failed at recapturing it. As always we really appreciate you supporting the show and if you love it, then please spread the word to other movie fans/

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



The Movie Breakdown Outline:

02:55 Mundbound review
23:16 Coco review
46:08 A Christmas Prince review
56:12 Bomb Scared review
1:08:43 Is the Marvel formula unrepeatable or are other studios just failing?
1:30:46 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

Mudbound ***½ (CS) & **** (SM)
Coco ***½ (CS)
A Christmas Prince ½* (CS & SM)
Bomb Scared *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Toasty Reheated Blog Post: Time to Revel in the Cherished Canadian Holiday, Thursday


I didn't always just write about movies or the passing of my dog on this blog. Sometimes I wrote about pure absurdity. My goal has been to get the blog back to what it was in 2010 to 2012 where I experimented and tried out all kinds of writing. One piece that I wrote way back in 2010 was "In Honour of Canada's Most Cherished Holiday: The Terrific Thursday Top Ten" because I decided Americans needed to be kept company with the holiday celebrating. I haven't written anything like this in years, but 2010 was a different time where children were still a thought and time grew on trees. That is right, we had a time tree at our old house, but at least now we have a pond in the backyard, so a pretty cool trade off. Anyway, have a very Happy Thursday or if you're American, you can enjoy your Thanksgiving too.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Follow-up to the Summit Tribute


I want to think everyone for the incredibly kind thoughts and comments about Summit's passing. I am always humbled and touched when my deeply personal pieces reach a large audience and seem to connect even with people that I've never met. The Summit tribute has ended up being read by a surprisingly large amount of readers. I am glad what I wrote was able to resonate with so many people, and every condolence meant the world to me. I have an amazing horde of readers, and even my first time (and maybe last time) readers rock the awesomeness.

It has been almost a week, but the house still feels eerily empty. I have learned how much my day revolved around Summit. Every morning and night seems incomplete without taking Summit on a walk. When we have to go somewhere, my instinct is to still call Summit so he can go out for his 'business.' Coming home has lost some of it pleasure as I don't have Summit running around the door and declaring my arrival for all in the neighbourhood. Summit was not only a beloved family member, but he was a huge part of my life. I'm learning it will take some time to adjust to life post-Summit.

We gave him a small memorial outside our house on Friday and had him buried on the property. I like to think he will always be here in some form. Everett ended up trying to dig up some of the dirt, because he wasn't ready to say good-bye. He then decided he wanted to be in the hole with Summit. When all those options were vetoed, he asked if we could get a new dog that looked and acted just like Summit that we could name, Summit.

I've got a lot of kind emails over the last few days with people who will miss Summit as well and shared some of their favourite memories of him. It means a lot to know our family dog meant so much to other people. Reading those kind thoughts has really helped the days that have really felt empty and missing.

I was also informed that during my tribute to Summit, I forgot to mention his intelligence. My fondest memories were his affections and how much he loved my family. Summit did have a few tricks we used to entertain guests. He especially liked to do a torquing dance on the leg of excited visitors (especially my brother), but I don't think that is the trick that I am supposed to mention. 

He would sit and wait for his food until getting the release word, "okay." He also would play dead, which consisted of someone shouting "bang" while mimicking a gun with their hand, then Summit would drop to his side until 'alive' was uttered. He also would shake your hand, give high five, spin around, give a hug, poke a fist with his nose, walk backwards, and bark on command. Though he often barked on his own too, so that was less impressive. I think, we have a video that shows off all his skills somewhere.

What I will remember most is the long walks and him always being there for hugs and pets. He was a smart dog, but it is his love that will endure.

Once again, RIP Summit and I will love you always.


Monday, November 20, 2017

The Breakdown of 'Justice League', 'Wonder', 'Suburbicon', 'The Killer' and 'Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond'


This week The Breakdown is dedicated to the bundle of furry energy and the most lovable dog in the world, Summit, who passed away last Thursday. To honour his memory, we have five big movie reviews including one of the biggest movies of the year in the big superhero team-up event, Justice League. As well, we look at the heartwarming Oscar contender, Wonder, and George Clooney's latest directorial effort, Suburbicon. Then we discuss two Netflix originals in the Brazilian Western, The Killer and the documentary, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond. As always if you enjoy the show then we would really appreciate you passing the word to other movie lovers.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



Breakdown Outline:

1:15 Dedication and talk about Summit
6:12 Justice League review
34:43 Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond review
54:05 Wonder review
1:10:30 The Killer review
1:23:11 Suburbicon review
1:35:15 Review Rundown

Rating Rundown:

Justice League ** (CS)
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond ** (CS & SM)
Wonder ***½ (CS)
The Killer *** (CS) ***½ (SM)
Suburbicon *½ (CS)

Friday, November 17, 2017

RIP Summit: A Tribute to the World's Greatest 95 Pound Lap Dog and My Lovable Furry Son


Summit was born July 7, 2009, but he came home with us on September 12th and instantly became my furry little son. He remained furry, but little was a thing he grew out of pretty quick. Not that he seemed to notice this fact because if you were seated on the floor, he would happily plop right into your lap. Sitting on a couch was no way to avoid his affection, as he would make sure to bury his large head right into your lap so you have optimal position to shower him with pets. If you weren't down with the lap attack and decided to stand up, he would be more than happy to sit on your toes as he push his body as close into you as possible. If that didn't work then maybe you wanted to experience life as a cowboy, as he would push his body in-between your legs so that you were now mounting him like a horse. If the rodeo was your thing, just find his magic scratch spot and he would jump around and do a happy dance while in-between your legs. Summit liked to be as close as possible to those that he loved, and if you once gave him pets, you were on the love list for life.


Bernese Mountain Dogs are said to be life-long puppies in that they would always be affectionate, get into things if the opportunity arose, and be up for playing at any moment. And if there are several people out to dispute that, then fine, but I definitely just described Summit the eternal and very affectionate puppy dog. Every day without fail while writing, Summit would make sure to make a visit over to me where he would push his muzzle underneath my arm then try to lift it into the air, so that I knew it was now time for pets. While his automatic response to a doorbell was loud and bellowing barks, seconds after he did his sniff inspection he then would push forward for pets or get in position to be mounted. Much of the day he would spend sprawled out and relaxing, but he would join in the moment there was dancing or laughing or anything that looked fun. If the words "walk' or 'hike' were uttered then he would bounce around the room and bark to the heavens.


Before Everett and Danika, it was Summit and Crosby (our cat who passed away in 2012). They were family and I loved them like children. Summit's first month at our home was training for what would happen when newborns would eventually live here. While Summit was being house broken, we kept him in a dog crate to minimize damage. There were many 2:00 am days where I would be leaping out of bed because I heard movement and I feared a disaster was about to erupt. Some days I got him outside in time, others it was an early bath for Summit


Luckily, unlike our human babies, Summit figured out the "toilet training" pretty quick, though to be fair, Everett may have mastered it faster if we just let him pee outside too. Shortly after the crate training was done, Summit decided he would sleep in the bedroom with us every night. He initially was trying to pitch sleeping right in the bed with us, by hopping in every night, but Emily wasn't about to accept an additional 95 pounds taking up space. He settled for many years laying right beside our bed. Though I confess that any night that Emily was away, I did not sleep alone and Summit knew the drill, not even waiting for an invite to occupy Emily's side.


Summit was good pals with his brother, Crosby. Crosby was not a cat that liked other cats or any dogs. When Summit first arrived, he seemed to know enough to give the cat space for a few weeks. By that time he was several times bigger than Crosby, he was able to force a friendship that largely consisted of Summit diving at him and Crosby swatting at his face. We knew the two had a decent relationship because Crosby always kept the claws in, or at least, until it was time to let Summit know that play time was over. When Crosby passed away, you could tell Summit really missed him. For the first few weeks after our walks, he would run to the stairs that Crosby would normally be waiting and then stand in shock that his buddy wasn't there. After that he would always get excited on walks if he came across a cat, probably hoping it would be his buddy in new fur.


After thinking we were done with cats, we actually decided to try out looking after a cat around Thanksgiving (October in Canada) this year. Summit instantly was ready to take up the Crosby play by offering up his face to be swatted, but new cat, Mittens, preferred to hiss at him and hide behind the piano. Summit probably due to being older, learned quickly to just ignore the cat and while they never formed any kind of relationship, Mittens was able to hang out in the same room with Summit. I am kind of sad that he never got to have one wrestling match with her.


After the passing of Crosby, Summit got himself some new buddies in Everett and eventually, Danika. He instantly was great with both our kids. He had no problem with them sitting on his head, crawling over his body, and definitely, appreciated all the food they dropped on the floor for him. I remember two summers ago when Emily took Summit on a canoe trip with her, Danika dumped the rice she didn't want on the floor and then quickly looked around, "Where's doggie?" Kids learned quickly that Summit would take care of anything that they didn't want.


The passing of Summit will be hard for our kids. Danika has a special bond with him. She would wake up most mornings always asking about the dog or cheering if he came into the room with me. She loved taking him on morning walks and was always excited when she knew doggie would be coming with us to the park or for a stroll around the street. Both our kids have had Summit for their entire lives, so it will be a big adjustment not being knocked over daily by the running dog.


Summit got a small lump about two months ago. It grew to a massive size in a matter of weeks. Cancer is very common in Berners, and Summit was already past the average life span for his breed. I had hopes that we would have a few more years, but the rapid growing lump meant it was time to enjoy what we had left. I am glad that Summit remained happy and full of energy until his very last day.


There wasn't much change in his demeanour over the last two months. He still loved his 45 minutes walks with daddy. He ran through the halls with celebration any time I came home. He was mostly the dog that I had loved for the last 8 plus years, except his appetite had diminished some. Summit always enjoyed life and never stopped showing his affection.


Yesterday morning, I tried taking him out for his "business", but instead he plopped himself on the grass, something he never did before, It was clear he wasn't in the mood for any type of walking. When I came back from dropping Everett off to school, for the first time ever he didn't run to greet me or bark to alert the neighbours that I was home. Though when I called out his name, he still wagged his tail as he laid curled up on his bed. So, Danika and I spent the morning hugging and petting him. He quietly passed away in my arms at around 11:30am. Poor Danika had no clue why her daddy hadn't stopped bawling the entire day. I am glad that Everett was able to say his good byes to Summit, and I know the next few days will be hard for him. It will be hard for us all.


Summit was family. He was my furry son. He was my exercise buddy who got me to walk two times a day. He was my best friend who made a big deal every time I got home. He encouraged, inspired, and most of all, loved me. I had a very deep love for him too.


I know my wife, Emily, and my kids really love me. Sometimes I also know I disappoint them or that I upset them. They aren't always in the mood to show affection to me. Even when I was at my most depressed or I was in a hostile mood or that I did something really stupid, Summit would wag his tail so that ir could knock down towers and then he would snuggle up against me. I couldn't do any wrong in Summit's eyes. He loved me unconditionally. He made me feel like a hero. He reminded me every day of the importance of showing unconditional love to family and friends. I always knew that he adored and loved me.


When I lost my grandma, it was a pretty rough day for me, and Summit never left my side that day. He let me squeeze him and cry into his fur for as long as I needed. The night that I came home after Everett was born, he sensed that I was going through some emotions and he made sure to stick with me the entire time. He also let me again hug him and just cry. Summit was always the first to sense that I was sad or down, and he would be my side immediately.


I had a very special relationship with Summit. One that will will last a life time, even though I will never feed him another chicken frame or take him for another walk. I have so many memories and know so many days were made better because I had that loving and full of energy dog by my side. One of the great things about being a freelance writer who worked at home, was how much time I got to bond with Summit.


We may have another dog someday. But we will never have a dog quite like Summit. A large mountain of a canine that thought he was the size of a Shih Tzu, but way more affectionate and friendly, He was a good guard dog that would bark at anyone that approached our house, but would just as quickly be willing to invite them in when they passed his nose inspection. He was very loyal, and whenever we went for walks, he always made sure that the family was close together. If he was on a hike off leash and one family member got too far behind, he would run back and forth until all were reunited. He loved water, maybe as much as he loved us. If there was a lake or pond or puddle, then he felt he needed to be in it. I have many great memories of throwing his toys into the lake and watching him run in to swim after it. He was happiest outside and even happier in the water. He was everything that I could have wanted in a dog, and so thankful for the 8 and a half years that I had with him.


It is when you have to say good bye that things like the poop on the carpet or the destroyed box of chocolates that were supposed to be gifts, no longer matter He was a dork. He loved to dragged dirty diapers out of the garbage and leave nasty remnants all over the house. Now, even his most annoying habits make me smile. It was what made him Summit, and Summit was a dog that I loved dearly.


Yesterday was incredibly hard. I am still so sad and heartbroken, but this time, I don't have Summit to hug or cry into his fur. This time I am crushed, because I lost my buddy and my furry son. This will be a hard weekend, but I will have his memories to keep me going.


RIP Summit. I will miss you and I love you so much. You were the greatest dog that I could have ever wanted. You will always have a place in this family and in my heart.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Woah, I'm Halfway There!

The average life expectancy for a Canadian male is 80 years old, which if I follow that, means I am have now lived half of my life. Now, if my body decides to follow my grandmother, I would still have another eight more years before reaching my life's midway point (and I would start looking better in flowery dresses). Of course, a weather satellite may fall on me next week and I would actually be near the end. But 40 years old is a lot of living and seems to be that age where one reflects a little on one's life and what has been accomplished.

A lot has happened during my lifetime. A chubby lasagna loving cat was really trendy on posters decrying Mondays. There was an animated series about a sword wielding cat and his feline friends battling other anthropomorphic animals and their blue mummy ruler. Facebook arrived to be an easy place to find funny and cute cat videos. Personally I once woke up to a cat horking up a hairball on my comforter. Plus there was lots of events not involving cats that probably happened too.

I'm at this stage where my brain is jammed with personal memories, but only a few really remain vivid. Most of them have likely been distorted due to my creative writer brain. At least it means what remains is more interesting so it makes it easier to accept them as the new reality. No matter how truthful are those memories, I trust the emotions and feelings remain honest.

My career isn't what I would have expected when I was 12, but at the time, I thought I would be a sports broadcaster. Not really sure when that stopped being my big dream, but I do know even as far back as 6 that I carried around a notebook full of stories and poems. Writing was a thing that I always loved, even if I had not seen it as what would be my job. I also know that a goal for as long as I can remember was to have a novel published.

At 40 years old, I don't have that published novel, no screenplay being picked up by a big studio, or a locked in job with a major magazine. But I have written stuff that went viral, wrote one off articles to major online outlets, and once was a strong candidate for major position with a New York entertainment publisher (of course, less discussed the better, as the end result still haunts me).

My greatest accomplishment is all the amazing relationships over the years. I am blessed to say I still am good friends with my childhood best friend. I have maintained close relationships with friends that I made in high school. It is great to still have a connection with people who have seen me grow and change, yet still like me. I can say 40 years has been more than enough time for me to really love and appreciate my parents and siblings who get even greater as the years go by.

My greatest relationships are with the three people that greet me every morning. Sure, two of them grunt at me instead of say "Good morning", but on a daily basis they promise me love, laughter, and adventure. They are my ultimate inspiration. Emily, Everett and Danika are my family, and their smiles are a greater treasures than any success I may obtain with writing.

This has gotten rather sappy, but maybe that is what 40 is about. Ignore the regrets and avoid dwelling on the failures, but hold close to what really matters.

I hope I have 40 more years. Though if I can be choosey, it would be cool if this sore neck, wonky hip and creaking knees took a break for the next 30 years or so. The exciting thing is how much everything changes over such a short period of time. Seven years ago I didn't even have kids. Fifteen years ago I was still single. Thirty years ago I thought Alf was brilliant storytelling. Maybe in 10 years I'll be living on the moon and have the ability to transform into a tiger. You just never know.

The past 40 years did not turn out the way that I expected, but I wouldn't change it a bit. Here to 40 more, and thank you to all that have made the first 40 so spectacular.

Don't See 'Daddy's Home 2' or Its Trailer

See the source image

I do not want you to go see Daddy's Home Two. As you know since you all listen to The Movie Breakdown podcast, it is one of those comedies that decides to not be funny and the inclusion of ass-smacking Mel Gibson sours any attempt at family Christmas movie. If you need to scratch that movie theatre itch, you will find a much funnier and better movie about family issues in Thor: Ragnarok. Despite that I am begging you to not see it, I have my anal retentive thing on the podcast where I need to tell you if it is worth seeing in 3D and if there is a stinger. If Daddy's Home Two was available in 3D, I can safely say you can once again get your third dimension hunger stuffed with Thor: Ragnarok. As for the stinger, yes there is one. Is it worth staying for? Well, anything after the opening credits is not worth sticking around to see. It is John Lithgow playing the sincere but goofy grandpa, which means it is grin-worthy, which is not something I can say about the rest of the movie.

The Breakdown of 'Murder on the Orient Express', 'Daddy's Home Two', 'Colossal', 'Stripes', and 'Army of Darkness'


The Breakdown is rocking out five movie reviews this year including two new theatrical releases. First we have the latest adaptation of the Agatha Christie murder mystery classic, Murder on the Orient Express. We also have the sequel to a surprise comedy hit, Daddy's Home Two. Then we discuss another 2017 movie, in the only Anne Hathaway comedy where she controls a Seoul crushing monster, Colossal. We then hop into the WayBack Machine for two popular hits from past decades including the Bill Murray starring Army training comedy, Stripes and the third chapter in the Evil Dead series, Army of Darkness. As always, if you enjoy the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.


Movie Breakdown Outline:

00:51 Colossal review
20:10 Murder on the Orient Express review
40:45 Stripes review
1:03:02 Daddy's Home Two review
1:20:25 Army of Darkness review
1:44:43 Rating Rundown

Rating Rundown:

Colossal ***½ (CS & SM)
Murder on the Orient Express ** (CS)
Stripes ***½ (CS & SM)
Daddy's Home Two * (CS)
Army of Darkness *** (CS) & ***½ (SM)

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Blue Chilled Takes


I have about one hundred and fifty two writing ideas on a daily basis. I never struggle having something to write about as much as I do picking what I write about. Having a problem like that would make one think the blog would be stuffed with content on a daily basis. As I've whined about in the past, it has been the exact opposite over the last few years. I often have a hot streak of articles for a few days and then outside of the podcast, take a long posting hiatus.

Part of the problem has been the overbearing depression and anxiety that I have written about to the point of nausea. Another big part is I have things like client work and being a dad, and when the emotions sap the energy dry then I need to prioritize, and those two things will always beat out the blog output (unless I could make money on here then it becomes a job).

The other issue is that over the last several years, I've written for relatively big pop culture sites obsessed with the clicks. The rule from all these sites is that all pieces posted need to be piping hot takes. If some news has broken or a trailer released, then a piece on it needs to have been written and posted ten minutes ago. I have had editors say that if something can't be written and posted in an hour then don't bother, because they have already moved on to something else. Timeliness is the most important thing to drawing in that coveted audience, because a site is trying to beat two hundred other sites with opinions on that delicious news item.

What that has meant for the blog is that I'll compose an opinion piece on something fresh in pop culture or start writing a movie review for the latest release then Danika will threaten to ride the clothes hamper down the stairs or a big paying project will land on my lap, so I need to push the piece aside for that moment. Once the stair tumble is avoided and the assignment sent off, then dinner needs to be cooked then that leads to putting kids to bed, and the next thing that I know the emotions crazy strawing away my energy to the point that I have nothing left for the blog.

In what I will openly admit is nothing more than a thinly veiled excuse, I return to the piece that now contains 'news' that has been extensively analyzed by every pop culture site and I decide it is old and stale. This past year has far too many discarded and unfinished articles stockpiled away than I am willing to admit.

The reality is that this site has never been nor will it ever be a hot movies news site. I am not going to break any news. It is foolish to think that I draw any kind of audience for piping red hot takes. My audience exists for one reason, and that is to actually read what I have to say. It isn't a large audience and I wouldn't even feel comfortable calling them fans, but anyone that comes here knows the words and opinions are mine. Unless they clicked it by accident, they are reading because they are interested to find out my take. Which also means that 'timeliness' likely matters far less than I try to convince myself when opting to throw away a piece.

It is humbling for me to think that my little name has somehow over time grown a daily audience that consists of hundreds of readers. While hundreds means very little to sponsors or in comparison to any pop culture site, it is still a lot for me to grasp. I often try to convince myself that I need to have fresh news or something beyond my words to bring in that audience.

The thing that I am learning is that writing is really important for my emotional and mental health. Being able to write whatever I want is a rewarding and uplifting experience. At the best of times, I would even say it is spiritual. This means that even in those darker emotional evening hours, I need to force myself to write more even if the 'news' is growing some mold.

I've decided that it is time to be okay with 'blue chilled takes.' I am going to start writing movie reviews even if it was release weeks or years ago. I have tributes to celebrities that I wanted to do, even if it is now years past their death. I have passion and thoughts that still hold relevance. While some news no longer has much point to be discussed, there are other things that I can still connect the dots to current events and will drive me to churn out a few hundred words.

Will anyone want to read it? Will it be interesting? I hope so. I won't find that out until I write them. While my goal is to also write about things that are current and steaming, I will also not allow something that is a few decades old be a reason not to write about it. So get ready for my perspective on the invention of this thing called the television, it may reshape how we get information!

All is Right in the World. . . of iTunes

For those who specifically listen to The Movie Breakdown episodes on iTunes but don't subscribe to the show. you can now listen to the The Breakdown of Horror show from last week without problems. I ended up moving the episode back over to Internet Archive, because iTunes and Podbean don't know how to play nicely together with my feed. Now, all shows are back on Internet Archive and every one will play without problem on iTunes. I still don't know why the Podbean enclosure link caused such a problem, but it was enough to convince me that I'm not really interested in using their services anymore. I likely will move my feed at some point, but will be looking for a site with stronger customer service and provides little headaches during the migration process (and will preferably upload every episode we've done, but that may be asking for too much). Along with that eventual move to a better site, I am planning to increase the marketing of the podcast and start some more interactive features connected to the show, which I hope will increase the audience and allow for either sponsors or confidence a Patreon would work, so we can offer more shows and content in the future.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Today's Small Victory: Last Week's iTunes Issues Were Not My Feed's Fault

Last week, I had some technical issues posting last week's podcast, so after 4 years using Internet Archive to post the podcast, I decided to use Podbean instead. Then suddenly, a new issue arose where the podcast would not play directly on iTunes, but would play on the blog, on Podbean, on my Feed, and for iTunes Breakdown subscribers. I enlisted the help from Podbean, Blogger, and iTunes, with the concern it was likely something to do with the enclosure link, but all ignored that and blamed it on my feed. A feed that never gave me trouble and was playing just fine outside of iTunes.

Just as an experiment, I decided posting this week's show back on Internet Archive. It did not have technical issues this week, even if long term I do have some concern about its reliability. Well, the show has been posted for a few hours, and it is now on iTunes and playing perfectly right on the site. So, basically everything is working just like it did with every other episode other than last week's (the lone Podbean episode).

All this to say, I was right. It has nothing to do with my feed. The issue is something with Podbean, likely an error with their enclosure link. This really doesn't earn me anything, other than knowing that I was correct last week even as all the tech experts ignored me. I win over the experts!

I don't know what this means going forward. Last week proved that Internet Archive isn't the most reliable and I have had mounting issues with it for months now. But it eventually gets posted, and obviously works nicely with iTunes. Podbean on the other hand costs money, doesn't play nicely with my feed, and their customer service failed to provide any solution. I am in the mood to do better research and find a better host. For now, I may be sticking it out with Internet Archive after all.

Apologies for all the people who are now snoring and had no clue what I was writing about. Just know podcast is good to go this week, no matter how you like to listen to it.

The Breakdown of 'Thor: Ragnarok', 'A Bad Moms Christmas', 'The Drop', 'Cult of Chucky', and 'The Pacifier'


It is a day late, but The Breakdown is piping hot with five big movie reviews. We have one of the biggest movies of the year in Thor: Ragnarok. As well, we have a second new release in the holiday comedy, A Bad Moms Christmas. From there we have the latest instalment of a long running slasher franchise, Cult of Chucky, as well as the Tom Hardy gangster movie, The Drop, and finally, the family action comedy, The Pacifier. As always if you love the show then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Note: Apologies there are some major technical issues with the sound for the last 3 minutes of the show. Also the outro some how was cut off.

Remember you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes.



The Movie Breakdown Outline:

01:41 Tribute to John Midlane (Scott's Grandfather-in-law)
06:00 Christopher's Halloween with the kids & Scott's death trap that scares Trick or Treaters & some horror discussion
16:57 Thor: Ragnarok review
41:14 The Drop review
1:00:50 A Bad Moms Christmas review
1:15:38 Cult of Chucky review
1:34:40 The Pacifier review
1:51:02 Review Rundown


Rating Rundown:

Thor: Ragnarok *** (CS)
The Drop ***½ (CS & SM)
A Bad Moms Christmas *½ (CS)
Cult of Chucky *½ (CS & SM)
The Pacifier *½ (CS & SM)


Monday, November 06, 2017

'The Breakdown' Can Be Delayed But Never Stopped

In a few minutes, we will be recording this week's episode of the Breakdown. Once again we apologize for it being late, but are excited to have a show up for you by Tuesday morning. All is now right with the world.

'Fifty Shades Freed' Trailer Promises Bondage, Stalkers, and the Actress from 'American Pie Presents: Band Camp'


I mind as well write something about the apparent last Fifty Shades Freed trailer (even though I don't remember there being any before this one), because unless a site, paper or magazine offers me some of that sweet cash, then I have no intention of reviewing the movie come February.

Part of that is due to the fact that the people who are going to see this will see it no matter what I say, but will just see it after nasty instructions on where I should stick my foot. Actually, it might not be that bad, because it isn't a DC Comics property, and stained Thundercats t-shirt wearing guys typing away in their grandma's basement won't care if this gets a negative reaction. But I am also almost 99.9% positive that I will hate this and that I won't have much to bring to the conversation considering that I never read the books or seen the other movies.

The other part of not seeing this movie is also why I skipped the others, being a lone guy watching a movie like this at the cinema is beyond the uncomfortable threshold that I want to endure. I think my max was achieved when I went to see The Fault in Our Stars with fifty plus iPhone glued teenage girls (well, I didn't go with them rather they happened to be there when I arrived). But at least that movie was good, and Scott saw it too, so we got to discuss it on the podcast. This likely won't have any of those benefits.

But I think the trailer promises all the things that appeals to the people that have turned this into a blockbuster franchises. I saw whips and blindfolds and jets and suits and stalkers. They all have stalkers right? And Dakota Johnson gets jealous over a past love, because I think that is a recurring thing. Well, I don't think Dakota get jealous but she plays the lady who gets jealous. Plus Kim Basinger is in it, and without bothering to fact check, I am pretty sure she has been here before. It has everything the fans have been hankering.

So get excited. I'll pass. This really looks generic and dull and melodramatic, and make Adam Sandler movies seems like complex character studies. But the real good news is that Arielle Kebbel, from such hits as American Pie Presents: Band Camp, Grudge 2 and Vampires Suck, gets to play an architect or a home designer or a curtain salesperson. That is really what I was hoping out of 2018, so real happy with that.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

'Breakdown' Postponed This Week

It feels like I have been writing a post like this every other week lately. The good news is that there are no technical issues. The bad news is that there is more things in life than technical that can delay a Breakdown recording. This is one of those "more things in life" weeks. Unfortunately, some serious personal issues struck this week. Hopefully, this is the last delay for a long, long, long time, I apologize for those hankering for their Monday morning movie review discussion fix.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Lions, Pirates, Gators, and Clowns! Oh My! : Pictorial Retrospective of Spicer Kids' Halloween Costumes Over the Last 6 Years

My kids like to dress up. Not just Halloween, but any day of the week. Costumes are pretty standard protocol around here. Halloween is extra special, because they get to show off their love of costumes to others and get rewarded with candy. I also believe I've gone on record that one of the major reasons that I decided to become a parent was my love of Halloween. I'm glad my kids are thrilled by it too.

Here is a collection of their different transformations every October 31st.