Thursday, September 6, 2012

Exhaustion & Responsibility, or: "I'm like a proud parent!"

If you're friends with me on Facebook - and admittedly the likelihood is astronomical considering Facebook is practically my only avenue for advertisement - it won't come as a surprise to you when I say that yes, this year I'm a residence don with my university.  Fact: I've had a number of people, either teammates or otherwise, tell me that all they've seen on their newsfeed has been more uploads of pictures of me, and while I'm sorry I can say 1. they're encapsulating the fun and the friends I've made since mid-August over training and 2. I look very good in them so bask in my rugged handsomeness.  As much as it seems like overload, I think I'm still just so intoxicated by enthusiasm about my new job that I'm taking it upon myself to share it at any given moment.  (including less-than-receptive cashiers)

All the excitement taken into account, it still feels weird to actually be a don; surreal, maybe.  For instance last night was my first don-on-duty shift, and if you're unfamiliar with what that means, it's basically a period from 5pm until 9am the next morning where I'm designated as the first responder to any emergencies that might arise in my area (townhouses) whether it be mastering lock-outs or attending to noise complaints and - knock on wood I won't ever have to deal with it, cause I didn't last night - breaking up social gatherings.  Last night's shift proved stressful, so much so that - and I'm not happy with myself for doing so - I let the stress and frustration overtake me.  Perhaps it was the overload of new responsibility or perhaps it was due to the hiccups that prevented attaining my idea of a flawless duty shift, but regardless, I survived.  Only one duty phone call regarding a work order, luckily no calls throughout the night as I slept (but for whatever reason the phone didn't receive any messages.. until it received all messages at 5am going off like a bomb which scared the living daylights out of me.  The delirious Matt literally falling onto the floor in shock would've been a funny sight to see, I bet you), no wild animals sighted, and a slew of situations involving approaching students who might've been drinking and assuring they were having a nice night; so good, overall.  And yet, it's still so surreal.  To think that, technically, I'm working even right now as my students' resource is bizarre to me; I have yet to accept that I'll be working full time here on campus all the while remaining a student, too.

And that's something that has scared me in a sense: I've thought of nothing but this job and its responsibilities and excitements for the past three weeks that I've literally forgotten about being a fourth year university student, and crap, that means I'm graduating at the end of this year.  Syllabi are slowly appearing online and it's becoming a scary reality to me that I have six courses first semester, the semester that kicks off in now four days, all courses highly intensive in terms of reading and writing.  The prospect of challenging my time management and stress control (what with balancing being a don and being a student) is intriguing to me, but I know at the end of the day, I'm a student first.  That isn't to say I'm going to disregard my don responsibilities, obviously.  I suppose I should stop wasting my few days off and start putting don-related ideas into practice so that my outlook might be a little less weighted down come Monday, come midterms, or come the inevitable crack in my mentality that usually happens around the last few weeks of a semester.  I have ideas about what I'd like to provide for my community in the form of programming (aha, programming! either active or passive, but always with an intended outcome of learning), but it's a matter of setting these gears into motion and reaping the benefit.

Ah, my students.  That's something else that nearly baffles me: I have students.  I've met the majority of them already over the residence orientation this past weekend, and I'm already feeling somewhat confident with their faces and names.  Over just forty-eight hours I could note a marked change in comfort; the first day brought about nerves, and rightfully so, as I doubt I would be able to function without nerves within hours of moving out on my own for the first time.  Come the second community meeting - fingers crossed they went well, by the way; I feel they did, cause they're laughing at my jokes and had fun playing the games - I could see a higher willingness to speak up or participate, though I know total comfort has yet to come.  It gives me this inflated feeling of pride to think about my role this year, without sounding pretentious or presumptuous.  I'm excited to provide for my students, and I can't wait to see the things they provide for me from the experience, too.  I make jokes about seeming like a proud parent, and it's funny that I already think that considering I've had just mere days with my students; I can flashforward to the end of the year and can see me surrounded by cats or something drastic to match my overly-gushy persona.

As I mentioned I'd been going nonstop up until this past Monday, and that might've been one of the biggest things that scared me most - the fact that training ended and literally a day later, boom, I was legitimately and officially a don.  I almost wish training never ended: yeah, I complained during, mostly because of the obscenely early mornings and long days (I suppose I should've spent more time sleeping, but whatever), but I can look backward fondly upon the things I took away from the many sessions I went through.  I find myself actively listening to even my best friends, and for the sake of a don mystique, I won't disclose how to actively listen; ha.  But along with the vast arsenal of knowledge I came away with, I also came away with something perhaps even greater: friends.  I miss living altogether in the same building, smiling to whoever you passed in the hall.  I think I'm honestly thankful for the chance to meet the amazing people that I did especially because I sometimes can admit to myself that I have great difficulties with carrying conversations or meeting people to begin with.  I lack a measure of confidence when it comes to socialization, but I'd say what lacks has at least been compensated for by what I took away from training, no doubt brought about by the nonstop interactive nature of the training set-up, anyways.  (that is: traveling everywhere all together, socials, living with training roommates who I miss already) It's always good to see your humour be well-received, too.

But with the benefit came the exhaustion, and therein lies the whiplash I've experienced with transitioning from trainee to full-fledged qualified.  There was so little time to even reflect on the areas in which I had doubts; but at the same time comes the teaching reiterated over and over throughout training that we aren't expected to be flawless - especially given that 75% of the team is freshly new this year - so it's something the perfectionist has to come to terms with.  Even in my first duty shift last night I can see the holes of imperfection that make me uneasy (that isn't to say, of course, I didn't do my job whatsoever, I just some minor questions) but it's done now.  I'm excited, though, for the chance to grow as a person, and to discover more things about myself that I might not even know are there currently.

I know that this year will yield some great things for me.  I've already met the great people, started on the (this is so cliched, I'm so sorry) great journey of actually being a don for my students (my students, weird still) that is sure to bring me some new stresses but mostly and certainly new opportunities, lessons, and fond memories.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Curtain Call for Summer

It still feels like just yesterday was the first day of my five month long summer vacation.  It's strange to even say I've been off for five months; surely there's no way that I've been living at home since April 1st, I can barely even begin to fill the weeks with enough memories!  If anything it just goes to show how comfortable I got with living back at home with my family, with the home cooked meals and car keys up for grabs, but sitting on my bed in my new residence apartment feels just as familiar as if I pressed pause five months ago and only just hit resume.  Much like with last year the gravity of the independence and the move itself has yet to hit me; yeah, I had this strange knot in my stomach for the past week leading up to move-in day, today, and driving back toward campus with my mom had this surreal feeling hanging over it like a cloud, but it's as if my mind has settled for nothing less than immediate acceptance when it comes to the notion of hey, this is your life for the next eight months.  My mom getting a little teary eyed when saying goodbye (after a day-long mission back and forth first from the car to my room and then from my house to various stores to collect what I'd forgotten, no less) was a crack to my stone coldness to the situation, but knowing my parents need to come back here anyways to deliver two couches within the next two weeks makes the look ahead to my independent life a little less dreary.

And yet, at the same time, even just moving in to the empty unit (which will remain empty aside from me for the next two days, I believe) brought about this excitement that I never had last year.  Maybe it's because my two-person apartment style residence layout is simply huge, and it's exciting to know that this year I'll have couches an a TV and my PS3 so that I won't have to hole up in my room 24/7; maybe it's because the walls are actually painted blues and greens instead of the apathetic whites of last year, or that the carpeted floors will hide my grimy footprints a lot better than last year's hardwood; or maybe, definitely, and this is about as candid as I want to get, I know I'm not getting myself into a permanent situation with someone that yields no ounce of benefit.  I'm hoping this year will bring the possibility for open doors as opposed to locked ones, or the chance to steal the use of a common area away from dust, things I never had in what became like a prison, but that's that.  I know I have a huge undertaking with my new position of don up ahead, and that should keep me busy along with graduate school applications and classes and maintaining marks and gearing up for graduation and I don't want to think of any of these things anymore, not today.

What happened that was noteworthy this summer?  It was a good one, I know, at least in comparison to those of my memories.

Yeah, I broke my foot.  Yeah, I went to Florida.  No need to rehash that.  (horrible and amazing, respectively)

I racked up more hours at work this summer than I have in all the years I've worked there combined.  As a result, my feet hurt a lot more, my back from standing, my cheeks from pressing on the smile to serve customer after customer, but the influx of shifts brought two happy things: one, fat paychecks, and two, time enough to actually get to know the people I worked with and find a damn good time while working with them.  It's inherently human to complain about your job, but I can at least say mine wasn't the worst thing in the world.  I do wish I could've gone back to earn some extra money after my vacation, but the foot dictates what I can and cannot do so in the end I enjoyed my two weeks of nothing before moving, anyways.

Really, there was nothing else out of the ordinary.  As usual it was fantastic to be surrounded by your best friends again, and of course being with friends brought about the best nights out to bars, to the movies more times than any human should go within a set amount of months, to an empty laser tag arena or just to a familiar basement to knock back some drinks.  I'm stuck in a cliche rut when I go on about blah blah blah so happy I have great friends, but I am and I do, and I'm happy that friendships only got stronger and I got the chance to be around other people a lot more to get closer to them, too.  Maybe that's why I was almost reluctant to move back on campus so quickly - I did get comfortable with the people padding my social circle around me, and while it's sad to know that the distance between me and any given person will only get greater from here on out, I know I'm in for new friends and new experiences this year given the circumstances of my job.  And getting back into a groove with the friends here (on account of living on the same campus or close nearby) is a great thing, too.

The biggest thing I'll miss from the world's longest summer vacation will be the lack of stress.  Ahead of me comes all of those things I've already listed off that makes me sweat a little bit more, and I know the next few weeks of nonstop training for my job will be strenuous.  (as much as it's sure to be fun, though) What makes it a little worse is knowing that there's no time to breathe once training is up: I'm going to plunge right into going back to class and turning in assignments while I need to do my job as best as I can.  See, and summer's not like that - summer's waking up after noon and showering hours later before you sit around and do nothing until a friend asks you if you want to drink a lot and go someplace.  No deadlines.

Like I said, though, this move feels a lot different than last year's.  Maybe it's because I know this year will be amazing.  But for now, I'll say goodbye to my old friend summer.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Florida Trip: RUDE PEOPLE! & more rides

I've come to the end of my vacation!  It certainly doesn't feel like I've been away from home for nine days, or worse, that I've been without the use of my phone for nine days, but as I look at its useless self on the table before me I feel like I've been able to breathe now free of my constant dependency on it.  I've found my new permanent spot in the armchair to the left of the TV and I feel uncomfortable now not sitting in it; the third shelf down hasn't yet failed me in providing me my double stuffed Oreos; in short, I've adjusted to this home away from home, but I'm just about ready to return to the Canadian heat late tomorrow night to reconnect with my dearly missed friends, the Telus network, and HBO.  HBO most.  I miss True Blood.

I look down at my arms and am pleased with the tan I managed.  I look to the bruises and swelling at my foot and frown at my stupidity.  I can feel the fridge behind me looking at me, pleading for me to help finish eat all the leftover food and beer even though I've, uh, been not-so-sober every night this week.  Aside from my general exhaustion - we did four theme parks and two outlet malls, consecutively - I've been very pleased with my vacation!  The only thing that worries me about returning home is the very real fact that I move into residence on the 17th to start with my don training, and I'm not quite ready to let go of my summer vacation.

So I don't have to now!  Instead I'll live in the past - yesterday - and then launch into complaining about rude bastards.

Yesterday brought the grand tour of amusement parks to a close with the other side of Universal, Universal Studios Florida, which, like Disney's Hollywood Studios, was (duh) geared toward the movie angle of things, except Universal has (duh) a lot less smiling and fairydust and stupid, stupid children.  Again I was a fan of the New York City and San Francisco street facades that made up the themed atmosphere of the park.  Luckily for me, the park was a lot more compact than the others we'd visited, so the whole mobility issue was moreso tolerable.  It was like torture seeing Hogwarts Castle towering over me all day though in the adjacent park; while atop the roller coaster I tried my best to scope out a route for me to escape our side and re-enter the Wizarding World, but it was tough to do considering, oh I dunno, this roller coaster (called Hollywood Rip Ride Rocket) involved a 90 degree slope and an almost-as-violent drop.  Awesome ride made all the better by the option to choose a song to play throughout it, and No Doubt's Hella Good did not disappoint.  Given that only the three kids rode it I was stuck alone beside a single rider, some little girl by herself, and I swear to god I thought she was unconscious the entire time because she looked sickly and didn't open her eyes once.  She ruined my ride photo, the corpse did.

With respect to the other rides in the park - and luckily, we managed all but two, thanks to brisk line waits and a complimentary express pass for the aforementioned roller coaster (we were next to ride and then it was shut down; walked on and off within five minutes two hours later) - I was impressed.  The Mummy themed Revenge of the Mummy roller coaster was fantastic, indoors and pitch black complete with fire and corpses and scarabs blasting at you; Twister, an up-close special effects demonstration with a tornado and later a tornado of fire and - goddamnit - rain, which was largely what felt like a thrown bucket of water that hit me and only me directly; The Simpsons motion simulator and an E.T. ride which made me feel like weeping for the return of my childhood and an alien-blasting Men in Black laser game, it was all very good.  We sat in at a horror make-up effects show which was more comedy than intrigue but it was really enjoyable nonetheless, and our luck found us dead in the middle of a parade barreling toward us down the main street that was nothing more than kids' characters on floats.  That Dora the Explorer needs to pull down her shirt, the slut, I could see her midriff.

Honestly, even writing this has been a struggle - not because I don't care, but because I feel so exhausted, no doubt from hitting a massive halt today from the fast pace of everything we've done and instead just doing nothing.  Drinking beer is even a challenge, I feel like my body is trying to repel it because I've had so much this week.  But oh, I really must comment on the rude, rude people I've encountered this week - false advertising otherwise, considering I picked it as my subtitle.  Laziness.

It might be easy to go "Americans are rude!" but I can say that the Americans I encountered this week (largely restricted to any store clerks or waitresses for certain, because I don't always know where people are from) have been far nicer than some of the traveling visitors.  Actually, any store workers at the outlet malls specifically were so nice, it was almost annoying, but being a cashier who has been accused of being not genuine I can say that their helpfulness wasn't just restricted to their job.  No, the horrible characters I'll touch upon come in the form of park-goers, and I need to preface this by saying my inclusion of their nationality is not stemmed from a malicious place; how else might you describe a group of people speaking French who are horrid without saying that they were, in fact, French.

AND culprits number one: this horrible group of French people who attempted to cut us off in Disney on Pirates of the Caribbean.  The queue was slightly wider than normal leaving extra space for riders to fill.  So as the seven of us slowly advanced forward, this man with four or five I suppose youths began to run around us nonchalantly to get in front of us.  When we confronted them, they looked at us and shook their heads.  We quickly spread out across the width to hold the line from any other passers, so these people's response was to literally stand on our heels and obnoxiously sing on our necks.  People - we are all riding this ride, so what that we're gasp on one car ahead of you?  I don't understand why the idea of boarding a ride turns into a bloodbath; again, we will all get on the ride, so I don't really stand for this cutting business because if I'm to wait in line (which isn't a task to begin with), you should too.  Almost in a similar vein, a man got under my skin by, when passing me in the express line for Tower of Terror, whispered-but-really-did-not-whisper to his son "look at all these people who we pass" before looking me in the eye and adding "but we mustn't gloat in front of them.  That's rude."  Congrats, but my wallet has seventy more dollars in it than yours, for the cost of waiting fifteen minutes longer than your bought pass does.  Or the man in the Wizarding World - seriously, what is it about advancing in lines that makes people so intoxicated and horny with power and satisfaction - who quite literally stepped around my sister and stood in front of her in the gift shop line.  She confronted him with "you aren't allowed to do that, you were behind me" and he actually fought it as if he had an argument.  My least favourite, though, might've been this Spanish family who had two very small children who ran around like monkeys during a stunt performance, and the little boy was crawling around on our feet and all but sat and jumped on my cast.  We told the parents to stop them from doing that, but all they did was literally smile and shrug.  Put your rascal in a cage before I kick him.

The honest truth is that these situations seemed like a bigger deal when they happened considering these heat of the moment things really get you riled up.  (and it's not like I have a big fuse or anything) I just don't understand what makes people so inconsiderate of others, especially in a big chaotic setting such as an amusement park.  I always comment on how I'm never the one to walk straight in a line and have others move to avoid me; I'm always the one who needs to jump away from an oncoming stroller or hoard of people, and nothing changed even with my obvious limp and foot cast - half of my vacation was spent retracting my foot away from people who were absolutely oblivious to it.  Not that I expect this paved way or red carpet put in front of me: but seriously, if you even let yourself see that I have an injury, don't charge at me like a blind bull and make me shift all of my weight onto it in a jump away from your fat ass and fat children.  (okay, I'm sorry, but the kids down here are rotund)

Gah.  Anyways.  Really awesome trip; so concludes my coverage which I'd say far beats out the American-bias coverage of the Olympics I've been forced to sit through.  (really, they cut away from anything without an American and only show events with American gold winners - at least in Canada it's more rounded) I'm somewhat eager to return home!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Florida Trip: movie wonderland and the definition of magic

Very rarely do I write blogs so early in the morning!  Even though I fell asleep last night well past one a.m. I was forced awake two hours ago by the smell of bacon floating under my door and into my room.  Now I'm just bloated and the path to the backdoor seems too great a challenge to tackle so my favourite arm chair will be my home as I write again about what I've done in the past few days on vacation.

Admittedly, in comparison to my last entry, the past two days have been more low-key even though we went back to theme parks on both.  (hardly low-key, but considering Monday-Tuesday was a back-to-back visit of the Magic Kingdom and Universal's Islands of Adventure, it almost seemed like a much needed break) While I sweat my ass off those two days, Wednesday's visit to Disney's Hollywood Studios was largely overcast (complete with nonstop thunder); yesterday, though hot as hell again, was spent in avoidance at an outlet mall, but to my dismay the sweat poured from every pore of my body even at ten o'clock at night while watching the Electric Parade and fireworks show over Cinderella's Castle.

Now that was the epitome of magic.  I faintly remember seeing the Electric Parade thirteen years ago, but my memory doesn't extend past "floats with lights" which isn't general whatsoever.  No, as we stood packed on a street corner swimming in sweat even though the sun went down, I smiled like a kid when the brightly illuminated floats rounded the corner and passed in front of us.  Alice rode atop a giant mushroom; Cinderella in her pumpkin; Snow White dancing with her seven dwarves in tow and Mickey and Minnie atop a bright train.  Admittedly the music that they blasted on loop got on my nerves within minutes, and I'm almost positive that that is the music that plays for eternity in Hell, so I hope to never get there.  The moment the last float passed, the crowd turned into a chaotic frenzy, but thankfully a Disney worker had our backs and sent us off in a shortcut to rejoin the Main Street.  From there, we stayed for the fireworks display, a display that puts shame to every single other fireworks show I've ever seen.  You don't know spectacle until you see the gigantic explosions over top the grand castle, and I'm glad I'll have those images forever stuck in my head.  (for those of you who can't access my mind I might suggest lurking my sister's albums on Facebook as she is the resident photographer this trip) From there came probably the most efficient exit I've seen which lay my stresses to rest; we somehow skirted around the thousands in the crowds and made it home by eleven.

Somehow, I get upset when I think about my time in Disney being over.  For now.

Two days ago, Wednesday, we visited another Disney park, Hollywood Studios, which - if you might've guessed by its name - was geared more toward the movies.  A section stood devoted to the animation, and honestly, I was disappointed that there wasn't a greater focus on how these movies were made; instead this 'animation headquarters' was a place to get pictures with various characters.  Blah.  Not that the day was a bust, anyways!  The other only misstep was The Great Movie Ride which, in theory, sounded fantastic (you travel through iconic movie scenes), but instead it was a cheesy guided ride through animatronic settings.  Just like in It's a Small World, those robots are creepy.  The part where the cart travels through the Alien ship with Sigourney Weaver was awesome, though.  In a similar vein was the Studio Backlot Tour, where we were treated to a special effects display of explosions, gun fire, and a rushing tidal wave which stopped my heart momentarily as it crashed toward us even though I knew we were safe.  Safe, not dry.  The gift shop connected to the exit was my absolute dream: you walk through an archive of movie props and costumes and concept arts and set pieces, including the costumes from Pirates of the Caribbean, the Alien from Alien, and Morgan Freeman's AFI Lifetime Achievement Award.  That, mixed with the whole movie theme of the area, should've effectively put a stop to my heart due to happiness overdose, but I made it.  I might not be as lucky today.  (Universal Studios)

A Little Mermaid stage show was somewhat impressive, what with the glow in the dark puppetry to simulate the aquatic characters swimming around under the sea.  (sidenote: I can't imagine being an actor performing the exact same performances tens and tens of times on repeat over a full day) A Muppets 3D ride was just okay, but it was the Muppets, so it was fundamentally good.  My three favourite visits of the day were the rides: the Tower of Terror, the famous elevator drop ride which scared the living shit out of me; Aerosmith's Rocking Roller Coaster, something I was lucky enough to ride twice in a row, which is indescribably fun as it blasts through a dark building while 'Walk This Way' plays over your head; and hands down the best of the day, Toy Story Midway Mania 3D, an interactive ride-game where you fire cannons at targets on 3D screens to rack up points against the other people in your party who, for those four minutes, are your opponents.  That we played twice, too.  Laughed like a kid.  The set up of the park was cool, anyways: sections were made to look like studio sets, including an entire path as a mock New York City.

Later today we make our last stop on this wild theme park tour at the other end of Universal Studios, and given I survive the day on my foot (that, or if I don't die from seeing Hogwarts loom over me again even though I can't revisit), tomorrow brings about a final chill-out day by the pool before coming home on Sunday.  Yes, I'll write again tomorrow night, though I'll only have today to recap: rest assured, though, I've saved the topic of rude foreigners to rant about, and lord will I.  I've never encountered so many rude people in my life, but that's enough for now.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Florida Trip: beaches and Disney and wizards

It's good to finally sit down and stop moving.  What's not so good is that thanks to my mother I'm addicted to this game on Facebook called Slingo, so while my family (families) are out back swimming or watching something together I'm in my big armchair playing this damn game.  But if you're beginning to get concerned, no, I have not spent my entire Florida vacation inside on the internet.

Tonight I'm still finding sand all over my hands and between my swollen toes from being on the beach all day.  I can happily say that I succeeded in getting a nice looking tan, but ask me to turn around and you'll see that the backs of my arms are glaringly white.  I didn't set foot in the Atlantic - I was confined to my chair because walking over the uneven sand in my cast was troublesome and I was too scared to try without - but despite the mobility issues, the beach on the East Coast was beautiful nonetheless.  I'm not usually one for sitting around and doing nothing; the four hours we spent by the water was almost difficult for me to sit through because there's only so much I can do without moving and there's only so many times I can listen to No Doubt's Settle Down even though I adore the song.  In comparison to my last two days, though, it was nice to come to a screeching halt.

Two days ago, Sunday, we went to the Magic Kingdom in Disney World.  As I mentioned in my last post I've been once before in my life, though I can't remember much aside from what was the most terrifying experience of my entire existence: a staged alien ride where an alien breaks loose in a room and it is downright traumatizing.  Thankfully Disney smartened up and replaced the monstrous thing that breaks the power and runs around you in the dark with Stitch from Lilo & Stitch instead.

I can't explain the sort of feeling that came over me when we set foot off of the monorail - if you've never been, you take a monorail from the parking lot because this Disney property is freaking huge - and onto the Main Street with Cinderella's castle staring directly at you at the end.  No, I can explain it: I turned into a giddy kid.  Into Tomorrowland, where we sat through a Monster's Inc. live comedy show, rode Space Mountain, and competed in a laser game on the Buzz Lightyear ride; deeper into the park, where we took pictures with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger after riding a hunny pot through the 100 Acre Wood; through It's a Small World which was bloody torturous; over to the Haunted Mansion which gave me heart palpitations, and it's worth mentioning that I'm astounded by the production and detail of that ride; finally finishing on the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster and with Pirates of the Caribbean which has since been redesigned to match the movies, complete with eerily realistic animatronics of Johnny Depp.  The highlight, though, came in the form of a 3D movie ride called Mickey's PhilharMagic, which involves a journey through some of the most iconic musical numbers from the classic cartoons, all redesigned from 2D to 3D.  What took the show to a higher level was that when a 3D pie was thrown through the screen at you (okay, not literally, obviously), the room filled with the scent of cinnamon and pie crust; when a wave engulfed the screen, you were sprayed with water.  Really awesome stuff.  Really was the happiest place on earth.

Oh, and I pulled the sword from the stone.

I'd never been to Universal Studios until yesterday.  The moment that I saw the Hogwarts Castle on the horizon I swear to god I think I almost started crying and sounds that I can't even begin to describe escaped my mouth.  We powered through the park straight toward the entrance to the Wizarding World, to Hogsmeade, and for the love of god, it was the most incredible place I have ever been in my entire life.  The honest truth is that I've spent about fifteen minutes attempting to put into words what being in the middle of that row of shops was like, but I've just given up completely.  The pictures we got hardly do the place justice; it was swimming with people as enamored with the detail and wonder as I was, and the fact that the soundtracks to the movies played on speakers everywhere you went just made everything infinitely better.  We walked straight onto the Dragon's Challenge roller coaster: its queue was themed entirely around the Triwizard Tournament, and walking through the line-up was almost as good (if not better) than the ride itself.  You pass by Hagrid's Hut, the crashed blue car, into the champions' tent, deep into some dungeons and around the freaking Goblet of Fire itself.

Walking up to the castle took my breath away.  The anchor of the themed area is the main ride within the castle, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, but yet again the queue was as good as the ride itself: you first wind around the grounds and greenhouses before you enter the castle itself, and holy shit.  Dumbledore's office; the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom; the common room; past the Mirror of Erised, the Fat Lady, talking paintings, the Pensieve, I can't describe it.  (apparently neither could our camera - we had to leave it with our bag in the lockers) The ride itself is, without exaggeration, the most fun I have ever had.  You fly over the grounds, through the Quidditch pitch, through the Chamber of Secrets; you're attacked by a dragon, Aragog, spiders, and Dementors.  Again, I can't find the right way to properly describe with words how the ride actually worked, but I just know I screamed and laughed the entire time because goddamnit I had so much fun.  Strategically you can't exit the ride without passing through a gift shop; I came away with a Hippogrpyh stuffed animal, a Hogwarts mug, a Deathly Hallows keychain, and I later bought myself Sirius Black's wand from Ollivander's.  But that's all.  Oh, and a mug of Butterbeer, which was oddly delicious even though it was, really, disgusting.  I want to go back so bad and live there.  (we ended up deciding not to continue on in the park right away without riding the castle ride once more)

Wish you were as cool?
Unfortunately lightning in the skies derailed our plans for the rest of the park: they were forced to shut down any rides involving water, so we couldn't ride the Jurassic Park adventure that I was looking forward to.  We were lucky that everything else was eventually reopened, and I again ran around like a kid through the Marvel section of the park to Dr. Doom's Freefall ride and to the Incredible Hulk roller coaster, which was a blast.  I wish we had spent more time with Marvel, considering it was visually so cool: painted entirely in bright colours, the paths were set up like New York streets, and costumed superheroes like the X-Men (ahhh!) covered the buildings and roamed the streets themselves.  (I was restrained from getting a picture with Rogue and Storm - boooo) Had I not wasted away so much cash in the Wizarding World I would've gone as crazy with the superhero memorabilia, but by that late point in the day, we were eager to go home.

Tomorrow?  We revisit Disney, though this time we brave the Tower of Terror again in the Hollywood Studios park.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Florida Trip: obnoxious teenagers and Hell's shopping mall

With utmost delight I report that I type this very post from sunny Florida!  What's true is that I've been drinking a fair amount tonight, but no matter; I decided a few hours ago (was there alcohol in my system then?  Oh, certainly) that I might every few days post about my vacation to the Sunshine State.  God knows there has been enough noteworthy things that have already happened, and we haven't even made it to the theme parks yet.  With a visit to Disney's Magic Kingdom tomorrow and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios on Monday, rest assured that Tuesday's entry will be an exciting one; for now, settle down with tales of my flight and the events of this day.

What I can start off with is some orientation: what has been labelled the "final family vacation," my parents finally relented and decided to bring my sister and to Orlando so that we could revisit Disney and - and this is mostly for me considering my sister has never read the books and is thereby not related to me from this point forward - visit the Harry Potter theme park for the first time.  I say revisit Disney because I've been once before to this location, back in 1999, something I know only because I can vividly remember a gigantic 2000 over the Epcot globe (what's the proper name for it?  Who cares, we aren't going back there), one of my few memories.  (well, aside from a story I'd rather not share) We ended up renting a house ten minutes outside of the Disney grounds with my parents' friends and their daughter who are technically my surrogate family anyways; higher ceilings than I'm used to, we've got something like two spare bedrooms, and I'm enjoying myself in the first floor suite I've claimed which by circumstance has handicap accessibility in the washroom.  Guess who gets to sit down during their shower?  My broken foot is thankful.

Ah, my foot.  The raincloud to my entire vacation.  The constant, painful reminder of my dumbassery - yes, dumbassery - of this past week.  The good news is that with every passing day I find a new energetic determination when it comes to standing up and walking; the swelling may have gone entirely but I'm finding it a little bit easier to limp around in my boot of an air-cast.  As much as I find this successful mobility I'm just as easily finding new bruises all over my foot, and I can tell you entirely that finding purple bruises on the bottom of your foot is scary business.  I fear that I'm putting unnecessary strain on my foot (and a consequential stunt to the healing process) when I force myself around, but I know if I don't, I'll miss out on going to the parks which I've weighted my entire summer thus far down with excitement.  On the flip side, though, walking feels okay (up to a point) because of my cast, and again, thank you thank you to my friend who provided it to me; I have some heavy duty pain meds for tomorrow; and the Magic Kingdom is the freaking happiest place on earth, right?  The moment I set foot in that place I should feel next to perfect.

Yesterday involved our lengthy but not-so-lengthy trek down to where I sit at this moment.  We left around noon due to an uncertain border wait - we flew out of Buffalo, of course - and we ended up at the airport hours early anyways.  What better way to pass the time than to stuff your face with chicken wings?  I don't usually fly well, and I can't say the bloated chicken food baby in my not-womb wasn't exactly a positive factor.  Regardless, hours later we took off, and hurray, I didn't puke on the airplane this time.  No in-flight movie - no screens to begin with - and no leg room for my casted foot.  Oh, and there were the most obnoxious kids I've ever seen directly in front of me.

I suppose it's helpful to first note that the male flight attendant, while extremely flamboyant, was kinda hilarious while over the PA system.  What's significant to note about this is that the three teenagers directly in front of me, my sister, and our friend is - and these are three teenagers of a group of about twenty as we soon discovered - that they are fucking annoying and would laugh the fakest goddamn laugh I've ever heard after every sentence the flamboyant flight attendant would utter, even if it wasn't funny.  I swear to god, if I ever hear this laughter again, I will hang myself on the spot.  And should my noose not prove successful, I'll hope that whomever the good god is in the sky will personally smite me so that I will never have to hear that grating, grating noise ever again.  What's worse about these children was that they thought it was funny to thrash - and I mean thrash! - around in their seats and pretend they were having seizures when taking off and then again when landing.  One then compared this thrashing to The Exorcist and lord knows I hate The Exorcist but congratulations to these stupid children, they comprehend the concept of comparison as well as successfully being able to identify a movie not made in the last two years.  Regardless, these kids were dummies, and by the cruelest fate we were stuck traveling from the gate and to baggage claim behind not just them but their entire insolent troupe of prepubescent shit-disturbing fuckers.  Excuse the french.

The heat hit me down like the hand of god and I wanted salvation from my cast when we finally touched down.  We played musical rental cars for a while before we finally set off toward our rented house, but one wrong turn led to an endless night of parents turning into psychopaths and yelling and constant U-turns and carsickness on my part all because the bitty of a GPS unit led us astray.  I wished for nothing more but sleep, but the excitement of exploring the house (hobble aside) was enough to keep us up well past 2am.  Oh, and I drank a lot too, because I could.  The handicap room became mine while my sister claimed the decked-out Disney princess room like the airhead Disney princess that she truly is.

Today brought about a late start, but when we finally decided to get moving, we drove straight to hell on earth: collectively we decided the late afternoon would be designated for shopping at an outlet mall, something my broken foot just begged for.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I have never in my life seen a place as busy as this outlet mall.  We drove around the extremely hectic parking lot for what seemed like an eternity, passing car after car parked on grass and halfway up a curb and practically on top of garbage bins and electrical lines.  Luck came to us after a harrowing search, and by then I thought screw this, I don't even feel like shopping.  The pain was most felt today walking around the outlets, and I only fear for the sort of strain I'm going to put on myself tomorrow around the Magic Kingdom, but T3s don't fail me now.  I came away from my crippled shopping experience with the greatest jacket I've ever laid eyes on, but damn, I can't wear it until the fall and I definitely can't wear it down here - I'd melt in a flash.

I never noticed how crippling (poor choice of words for my own situation, but I'll own it) not having a working cellphone is.  My dad and my sister reap the benefits of having unlimited data so la de da, they get to BBM the shit out of their contacts, while I'm stuck with a caveman-like sensibility where I can only use my surprisingly resilient Blackberry for checking the time or playing Word Mole when the world around me bores me.  I'm thankful for the unlimited internet - the people who own this house won't mind me downloading torrent after torrent, will they? - and I'm at least able to contact my good friends over the net, but it's seriously humbling and quite frankly oddly disturbing how much I actually depend on my phone.  The honest truth is I shouldn't even worry about my connectivity: I'm on vacation and my internet connection should be the least of my concerns, dammit!

Up next: tales about Disney and Harry Potter that will surely be published beyond the grave because I am a child and these amusement parks will be the absolute freaking end of me.

Monday, July 23, 2012

One foot down, one to go

So much for all that milk I drink.  Seriously, I must drink at least three glasses a day; a lot more than I drink water, anyways - so why the hell do I break so many bones?

The entire time that I wrote this post I was knocking on the wood table beside me - I don't need any more injury and I don't want this to jinx myself.

I broke my goddamn foot on Friday night.  What was meant to be a fantastic weekend out of town with some of my favourite people was plagued by my idiotic injury only hours after arriving - a trend you might realize when I divulge into my checkered past of injury.  A fantastic weekend it really was, though, don't get me wrong!  But the fact that I could barely even walk wasn't exactly fun.

The obvious thing to address was that I was very drunk.  When I'm drunk I'm still coherent enough that I almost never have problems with balance and walking, so it's not because I was too much of a mess.  Instead working against me was this deadly cocktail: a narrow hallway cluttered with large boxes, somewhere between nine to eleven beers in my system by eleven at night (we played a very grand game of King's Cup), and the song 212 by Azealia Banks.  I might've jumped, I could've tripped, though I definitely caught the edge of one of these boxes after getting excited over the song playing with my equally drunk good friend down the hall.  What did happen, though, as I remember the pain vividly, was that I collapsed entirely on the side of my right food.  I somehow dragged myself to the basement where I was to be sleeping amidst surging pain, I requested a beer, and I affirmed that I did not dislodge a bone since almost immediately after my fall appeared a massive bump.  I eventually passed out.  What came Saturday morning was a worse pain, a pain so bad I couldn't even deal with my nausea and headache from drinking twelve (the official count was twelve) beers the night before.

Here's a moment of candid confession: as I lay on the futon staring at the ceiling and knowing that I definitely fractured something, I cried.  I texted my mom who in her mom fashion proceeded to flip out and demand a call; she was extremely concerned and the reminded me of the very thing that made me cry to begin with - we're leaving for Florida in just five days, a vacation entirely centered around day trips to Disney and Universal complete with walking.  I eventually calmed myself down but I couldn't help and still can't help but feel upset with myself and my proneness to accident.  A visit to the walk-in clinic earned me nothing: the doctor was brisk and told me I broke the outermost bone in my foot but that there was nothing she could do for me and I should just go home and not walk - you think?  Walking is and was nothing but painful, but I managed to get myself to the theaters to see The Dark Knight Rises again, and my resilience continued as I took up the beers once again and made it out to the bar at night.  (sitting and ordering beers is not strenuous work) Today brought about severe bruising though slightly easier walking; I'm dragging myself around like a bloody zombie.

Thanks are in order for everyone there this weekend who were my personal brigade of service: I didn't have to leave my spot on the couch or on the rolling chair I used to propel myself around the house whatsoever, and I can only imagine how annoying waiting on someone might get.

I hate that I'm easily injured.  I hate that this had to happen before the upcoming ten days that require my walking ability, and I hate that my vacation will lack total relaxation as I need to grapple with this injury.  Another thanks to my friend who has given me one of those air casts that look like boots so hopefully that should at least give me some relief when walking.  I hate that my bones hate me, and I definitely hate that every injury I've had comes with an embarrassing story of cause.  Hey, remember that time I broke my foot when tripping in the hallway?  Yeah, it gets to join the ranks of that time when I fell on the stairs and broke my knee, or the time I fell off of my bike off of a boardwalk and broke my arm, the same arm I broke when slipping on plastic, and that time I broke my ankle when slipping on water.

This always happens.  (allow me to use this as a catharsis of self-pity, because shit happens and I have to deal with this because what's done is done and I need to focus on getting better now) This means, as I've already exhausted, that my Florida trip has now been somewhat damaged.  I can't go to Wonderland as I was planning to on Tuesday.  Can't drive.  Sure as hell can't work unless I can get to the point of standing on my feet for eight hours again, so I need to deal with calling that one in tomorrow about not being able to work the shifts I have this week.  And I definitely can't walk without strife, so don't take your ability to get up from your computer right now and go run a marathon or hell just even get to the washroom or fridge or your bed for granted.

Pray for me.

Friday, July 20, 2012


Before beginning I need to address the fatal shooting that occurred at the midnight screening last night in Colorado - there's no need to rehash the details because I'm fairly certain you've heard about it.  My thoughts are with the victims of the tragedy.  I am disturbed and disgusted to my core about the sort of evil that exists in the world, that something as exciting and honestly trivial as a midnight advance show for a summer blockbuster has turned into bloodshed for those involved.  At the risk of sounding cold, I wonder to myself what affect this will have on the movie's success this weekend, although the gravity of this situation is truly real and I only hope for the best for those who have survived and for those who have been affected.

I wish I could pull off standing on police cars.

The Dark Knight Rises is the most perfect conclusion to a nearly flawless film trilogy and is, frankly, the most intense and the most satisfying movie I've ever experienced.

I can remember being dumbfounded when walking out of the theater seeing Batman Begins way back in 2005 (has it been that long?) because I could have never expected the sort of quality and realism that Christopher Nolan had brought to a franchise that had been tarnished by the ridiculous Batman & Robin and its subsequent nipple-suits and Schwarzenegger madness.  I saw that movie twice.  I can remember waiting outside of the locked theater doors at 10am with my friend in tow waiting for the earliest possible showtime for The Dark Knight - my theater didn't offer a midnight showing for, because trust me, I would've been there - which was at noon.  I remember running in once the doors opened and body checking people to get to the theater, running to watch what would be the greatest comic book movie made.  I cried when Rachel Dawes blew up as a result of the Joker switching addresses; I was in awe at the late Heath Ledger's incredible performance as the deranged sociopathic clown; I hated Chris Nolan with everything I had for leaving me hanging, not knowing if there would even be a sequel.  (I might've been okay without one, actually) And four years later - we waited four years for this - The Dark Knight Rises is finally here, and I would wager that it comes close to entirely surpassing its near-perfect predecessor.


Scratch that.  Now that I remember the film's final hour, I feel like it's better.

To be honest I was initially wary about the film as it began.  The first forty-five minutes or so started on shaky and slow ground, though now considering the plot as a whole, I can see the need for such time to be devoted to establish what would become integral.  Set eight years after The Dark Knight and after Batman took the fall for Harvey Dent's death, we find Bruce Wayne as a recluse, his body deteriorating and his weight on a cane.  Events are set in motion immediately as he crosses paths with Catwoman, whose seemingly petty theft of his fingerprints begins a spiral of madness, orchestrated by the terrifying Bane, played by an almost unrecognizable and scarily built Tom Hardy.  The movie plays parallel to the one before in the sense that the first hour is devoted to a tangled network of confusion before the main villain rises about and assumes control of their plan: in The Dark Knight we had the business with the Chinese businessman and the emergence of the Joker, and here we find Bane's employer calling the shots with a plan set before Bane hijacks the control with his own agenda.  From thereon out we see absolute pandemonium: Gotham is turned on its head after a series of events triggered by Bane which honestly made my blood run cold - explosions, diversions, entrapments, a clusterfuck.  Wayne is forced to return to his suit, something he had lived without since the failures of the second movie, to combat Bane, a task made all the more difficult by Catwoman's involvement.

My fear before viewing involved the tall order that The Dark Knight entails - I would've admitted defeat and given up on topping it with a sequel considering it is, honestly, perfect.  The natural need to compare comes from the void left by the Joker, and Tom Hardy had huge shoes to fill in wake of the performance which resulted in a posthumous Academy Award for Ledger.  It would be impossible to compare Bane to the Joker simply because you can't; Bane is therefore terrifying and physically formidable - the first fight scene with Batman is brutal to sit through - he proves a worthy match for the Caped Crusader, and I honestly for the life of me couldn't figure out how Batman would even be able to win at the end of it.  Bane's entire plan, as it continues to unravel, gets increasingly horrifying and grand, and the intensity of the film-making put me in a cold sweat throughout the watching the film.  The action keeps going to culminate in a sequence where I literally could not breathe.

The other concern was with Catwoman.  I'm a huge fan of Michelle Pfieffer's Catwoman in Batman Returns and not so much of a fan of the Halle Berry incarnation.  I don't know how I feel about Anne Hathaway; sometimes I like her a lot, sometimes I don't, but I was afraid she wouldn't fit in with the cast and would simply just be Anne Hathaway in a Batman movie instead of the character.  I was wrong.  This movie is Catwoman's movie, and as great as Bane was as a villain, she steals the focus away from him to be the greater of the two additions.  She oozes sexuality without even trying, and her cool voice shooting off sassy one-liners made her memorable; I'm glad they played her off as being morally ambiguous.  Catwoman, the master thief, steals the movie.  (lame)

The most emotional part about this movie, though, is the investment we have in these characters.  I shook with nerves thinking of any of the veterans dying - specifically Alfred, Lucius, and/or Commissioner Gordon - and I won't say who lives and who doesn't, but there are a handful of scenes where I was literally squirming in my seat because I wasn't sure what was going to happen to any of them.  So too was the attachment to Bruce Wayne (obviously), and as the chaos grew darker I feared the Dark Knight might not triumph, let alone live.  (again, I won't say what happens) In addition to the characters we've grown to love came the additions - Catwoman, Bane, Joseph Gordon Levitt as a young and honest cop who becomes Gordon and Batman's ally, and Marion Cotillard as the new CEO of Wayne Enterprises and more eye candy for Bruce - but the movie never seems weighted down by their inclusion.  I was nervous that it might become too much of an Inception reunion, though everyone seemed so natural within Gotham City.

The conclusion to the movie was simply perfect: a perfect end to the events in place of the movie, and a perfect end to the trilogy as a whole.  For the last ten or so minutes, I cried.  CRIED.  I'm upset that the franchise has come to the end, and that we'll never see other characters from the comics come to light, but there's no more satisfaction I want from what we were given.  CRIED.

I'm glad that I saw the movie at midnight.  From the moment that I stepped foot in the theater it immediately felt like an experience.  I stood in my Batman t-shirt and Batman Converse high-tops (so tight that I could barely walk and they became part of my feet) surrounded by others in similar apparel.  A table was set up by a comic book store with a guy dressed as Bane, and we took a picture with him.  The hype kept building as the theater got packed with people who didn't care that they were seeing a three hour movie at midnight.  The trailer for Man of Steel was met with screams of "Batman's better!" and applause from the audience.  The movie received unanimous applause as its title came up on screen at the end, and rightly deserved.

A truly unbelievable viewing experience from start to finish.  Get to the theater now and see it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Peanut butter and summer jams

As promised: something not as serious.  I devote a fair amount of writing to my thoughts on various movies I've seen on this here blog of mine, but that's the be expected, no?  I call myself some sort of movie encyclopedia, considering I'm the go-to when someone asks anything related to random movie trivia; I've spent more time at the theaters this summer than I have at home; hell, I'm going to school for cinema studies, and the more I think about my future the more I realize I better be behind a camera, or at the very least, I better be the next Ebert.  And so with all of that digression in mind, my point is that I thought I might shift gears and give light on what I'm listening to in these last remaining summer months, for no reason aside from (well, changing gears) the fact that I can.

The last time I shed light on my musical tastes I got considerable backlash, but that's to be expected: there's so much music out there that one isn't defined to a handful of selections unlike, say, preference in television shows.  It's a lot easier to relate to someone over a love for Game of Thrones than it is over the most obscure underground indie band whose name isn't even in a writable language because of the depth of the medium's scope - there are only so many genres of TV or movies and only so many options to actually watch that common likes and dislikes are easily discovered.  Musical taste, on the other hand, is hardly definitive - why, even in just my own iTunes library, you could go from a Lady Gaga pop song (it's likely, I have hundreds) to a classic rock song to a showtune to some weird rap song.  That being said: I feel like when it comes to musical taste it's imperative that respect is kept in check.  There's a fair chance that you, my current reader, will hate everything I'm about to list - you might not even consider it music whatsoever - but that doesn't automatically write off what I've listed as universally "bad."  It simply represents a personal opinion, an opinion exactly what this very post is: I will at no point say that this is rule.  It's what I like, regardless of if you think it's quality at all - that's the fun of this though, isn't it?  You might walk away wanting to listen to anything I've suggested, or you might find yourself on the comments section of this post to tear me down and assume everything I've spoken out against in this overtly-defensive and largely irrelevant paragraph, you damn cliche, but whatever - I'm game!

Anywaaaaays.  Yes, the point of this is to write about what I'd consider to be good music to be listening to this summer in a time devoid of any new Lady Gaga material.  (good mood material, that is - I'm not usually up for listening to Princess Die when I'm hanging out with my friends but nevertheless check it out it's beautifully written) Forgive the fact that I'm not well versed in the language needed to describe music quite like I am with movies.

212 | Azealia Banks
This song is fire.  It's begun to grab traction on the radio although the censorship is a discredit to the song - the word 'cunt' is used so many times I can't even begin to count, but considering I've become too liberal with the word I've completely embraced it.  Azealia Banks just has this something that I can't even begin to describe, and it's what makes the song so incredible.  It definitely has to do with her spitfire rhythm and her near-apathy when rapping as if she could do it in her sleep.  As much as I've gone crazy over this song I realize that it isn't for everyone - any time it's come on my mom has said "please change this Nicki Minaj song" - but it's at least worth a listen considering the last two people I've shared this with (one of whom does not like rap) were hooked within seconds.  Should you become as enamored with this song as I have been, and if rap is sorta your thing, she recently released a free nineteen-track mixtape entitled Fantasea which, although quite unlike 212 in its grittier and heavier rap tone, is still very impressive.  It's also worth saying: Azealia Banks wipes the floor with Nicki Minaj.

Runaways | The Killers
Already have I proved my previous point about the huge scope in music: I'm jumping from a female rapper to an alternative rock group.  A few days ago came the release of The Killers' first single from their upcoming album Battle Born, and it's undeniably them.  I've always loved The Killers, and I'd wager that Mr. Brightside is probably one of my all-time favourite songs, if not the top.  There's no use in even trying to go on about what makes the song so good, namely because I think The Killers might be moreso recognizable to you than the previous song where, reading again what I've written, I seem like Azealia Banks' official distributor.  If you've ever liked listening to any song of theirs, you'll obviously like Runaways; it's similar enough to their previous work to make the song familiar, yet it's different enough to add a progression to what they've done.  The escalation throughout the song is immersive.

Electra Heart | Marina and the Diamonds
Thought I'd change things up and make note of an entire album itself.  You might not recognize the name Marina and the Diamonds, yet there's a chance you might recognize the lead single from this sophomore (yeah, this is her second, a conceptual follow-up to The Family Jewels) album called Primadonna.  While the name is suggestive of a band, we find instead just Marina Diamondis - the mentioned 'Diamonds' are her fans, as she's said, ala Little Monsters - a Welsh import with one of the more distinctive voices in my musical library.  (I think it's because she sometimes sings with her accent - it's tough to explain) While The Family Jewels was largely experimental with its alternative-pop songs, Electra Heart finds a shift to a more traditional pop sound made unique by her voice.  The album as a whole works in concert with her current image - that is, bleach blonde hair and an indulgence in the archetypical blonde - as it deals with the overarching theme of the blonde starlet, fame, and its consequential downfall.  Songs like Bubblegum Bitch and Homewrecker take stabs at the stereotype while Teen Idle and Living Dead deal with the break of that facade.  The album (and her voice) takes some time to adjust to, but she's worth a look.  Songs of note: Teen Idle, the obvious highlight; Primadonna, Power & Control, The State of Dreaming, How to be a Heartbreaker.

National Anthem | Lana Del Rey
I'd be lying if I said I didn't write that lengthy preface almost specifically because I knew I'd mention Lana Del Rey.  I've spoken before about how polarizing she is, considering - even though I call myself a pretty big fan - I sometimes think she can't even sing; live performances tank more often than not and I don't overly appreciate the reliance on production to make songs enjoyable.  Regardless, National Anthem is the highlight to what I honestly think might be one of the strongest albums of the year, Born to Die.  (my misgivings aside, I'm not exaggerating when I say there isn't a single song that I don't dislike, it's that good - although you really need to be in a mood to listen to fifteen tracks with the same somber tone) With National Anthem we find her almost-rapping throughout the verses which lead up to a catchy chorus.  Worth mentioning is the video where she portrays Jackie Kennedy opposite A$AP Rocky as JFK; what seems like a controversial video plays out as extremely emotional and hauntingly beautiful.  This song screams summer.

Synthetica | Metric
The power of live performance: it took one free concert of only six songs to launch my obsession of Metric, a band who I've always enjoyed though never to this extent.  Fantasies seemed like a tall order to follow; with Synthetica Metric returns with grand scale, found in songs like Artificial Nocturne and my favourite, Speed the Collapse.  I'm completely in love with Emily Haines and her vocal style; she's a ball of energy while performing and that playfulness is apparent in a song like Lost Kitten, another one of my favourites, which is nearly creepy but definitely catchy.  The album takes only one misstep, a song called The Wanderlust which features Lou Reed.  His bizarre drawling dampens the song as a whole and I can't help but think that I might've enjoyed it had it been only Haines singing, but it's nothing a simple click of the skip button can't fix.  Proud to be a Canadian with bands like Metric repping us in the music industry.  Songs of note: everything.  I'm kidding: Speed the Collapse, Youth Without Youth, Lost Kitten, Breathing Underwater, Synthetica.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Sticks and stones break bones and all, but nothing hurts more than words as weapons.

I know as much as you do - we were all the bully on the schoolyard playground as much as we were the one dreading recess; we talked poorly about those we didn't like in high school as much as we knew full well some smiles we got were strained.  It's something we all take for granted, but perhaps the greatest advantage that comes with maturing to the age I'm at now is the step closer to escaping the cruelty of stereotypes and, albeit to a lesser degree than what's found on the playground, bullying.  And yet regardless of how great the step or how many steps in the right direction to begin with, it's an issue that's still persistent - in my life, at least, though slightly.

I remember a group of boys in the grade above mine would always call names after me whenever they'd see me out on the field with the rest of the kids of the school relieved with recess.  I can't remember their names, can't remember the names they'd call me - thankfully, anyways, they weren't anything with real weight considering I'm not emotionally traumatized by what was said - and I honestly don't even remember their names.  Such an insignificant fact to my twenty-one-year-old self proves only the pettiness of bullying altogether; as much as I don't remember specifics about this outside of the basic outlines to this name-calling, I can remember at times dreading recess if I knew I wouldn't be with my direct friends for whatever reason, or even turning quickly on my heel to reroute myself so I'd avoid this group of boys to ensure I'd get away with just being called Matt for at least one recess.  And yet as much as I remember being the subject of childish taunts, I can fully remember I wasn't saintly whatsoever; in fact, I often say if I knew my grade eight self, I might not have liked him much.  I was a do-gooder, and I can fully remember that if I didn't like someone for whatever reason, I was horrible to them - not that I was the bully everyone cowered from; I just mean to say my track record isn't clean when it comes to the sort of minor bullying going on at that age.

As cliche as it is to say, high school can be ruthless.  Gone is the immaturity of bullying; at a younger age, kids choose the most trivial of things to pick on other kids - because they might look funny, because they might do something a different way, but nothing ever seeded in pure stereotype and discrimination.  (although I have to mention that a heavier sort of bullying that might lead to long-term emotional damage doesn't exist; I just mean that I never encountered it in elementary school) Therein lies the difference between elementary school and high school: in high school, we said what we said and we did what we did for a reason, and that reason is anything but positive.

I remember in grade eleven an instance of a more direct and hateful "bullying" (I hate using the term sometimes because it seems trivial) aimed at me.  I waited outside of the portable for the period to start with my friend, and I can remember a group of guys who began to snicker to themselves like idiot guys do before they decided to address me - and do I remember who they were?  Absolutely, but you're stupid to think I'm stupid enough to include the names.  They would say, "Matt, is it true?" but by the way they were acting I knew not to engage them.  This question persisted throughout the class - they conveniently sat directly behind me, and they continued to whisper the same at me between hushed laughs - and I only found out what they so desperately wanted from me once the bell had dismissed us.  And as I walked past the one of them - I remember who - he said, "Matt, are you a faggot?  Is it true you're a faggot?"  And as much as it hurts me to say that wasn't the last time I'd been subjected to this assumption made by others about my orientation, and by extension, to the sort of derogatory language fired at me as a(n assumed) homosexual.  Remember that horrible website Formspring, where people could leave anonymous questions?  That wasn't as fun for me as I'd hoped.  I can't see how the makers didn't foresee this as a literal breeding ground for bullying considering an individual is at their strongest without a name and a face.  People do make decisions about who others are, about who I am, and they stick to them, and though it tears me down, there's no such solace in knowing who you yourself are regardless of what others decide to impress upon you.

Bullying, in the most simple of terms, is rooted entirely in stereotype.  And that's why I hate stereotype.  I can't see how a person's character, this entirely complex and intricately woven identity that makes them who they are, can be deconstructed and reduced entirely to "nerd" or "loser" or "retard" or "faggot;" hell, labeling someone "jock" or "goth" or even something with a positive connotation completely demeans everything that makes them truly unique and reduces them to this stock ideal which simply must be true about them.  I can't think of something that is more disrespectful to someone than to disregard everything unique about them.  And by extension, then, comes this horrible concept of bullying where these stereotypes, once pressed on someone, are completely unmovable.  Call a kid with glasses a nerd and they'll forever be that nerd, and even when they've reached a mature age where this concept of petty bullying is nearly gone they will always be that remembrance of that caricature that stuck with them.  Assume something about someone because of what music they listen to or who they hang out with is to further disregard the concept of individuality; I can't see why movies or music or books or sports (et cetera) are restricted to this or that stereotype - why can't a person enjoy something for the sake of enjoyment, and that's that?

To bully is to resort to what's easy: it's remarkably easier to call that person a nerd or four-eyes than it is to actually understand their likes and dislikes and habits and preferences and everything else completely possible that could serve as a building block to their individuality as a whole.  I do my best not to subscribe to these sorts of stereotypes considering said stereotypes are still placed upon me, and I'm no fan of hypocrites.  I feel like I'm talking in circles when I keep reiterating that bullying proves the loss of individuality.  It's strange to see that a person's acceptance of their own individuality is something that needs to be promoted - we have this new movement of encouraging the young generation to embrace who they are, but why did we get to the point where that encouragement had to be a necessity to begin with?  Shouldn't you love who you are anyways, and not because you've been giving the go-ahead that you're allowed to do so?  And that's the sort of governing power bullying and stereotypes have over those who are bullied and subjected to this hatred; it's a sick grip.  Nothing should make you doubt your own self-acceptable, nobody should make you less comfortable about who you are or what you like or how you act, and nobody should tell you who you should be or shouldn't be.

It's old news, but does anybody remember that documentary entitled Bully that was nearly prevented from opening considering its subject matter was deemed too harsh?  I'm not sure if anybody saw this movie (I haven't), but I remember there was this minor social uprising on Facebook ala that Kony 2012 business where a large amount of people on my friends list shared the trailer for the movie to raise awareness of its message against the severity of bullying.  My purpose of bringing this up ties into the final point of this I-don't-know-what-I've-got-going-on-right-now-blogpost, and I'm going to take an aside briefly and apologize for this getting too preachy, opinionated, or worst of all, personal.  My purpose of bringing this up is that I remember that some of the people who shared this video with various "bullying is a serious issue!" bullshit messages were those who I can actually remember being horrible to either myself or others in my grade.  And so I say: this ease of bullying based on stereotype is intoxicatingly easy as I've spoken of, but it bothers me that people take this clean bill of conscious and promote this tolerant lifestyle when they themselves have been venomous.  I've mentioned that I myself have been in the position of the "bully," but it comes down to the fact that to be picked on is one of the worst feelings in the world and it weighs you down with such guilt that you'd wished you'd never said anything mean to anyone in the past.  If you say you hate bullying so much, don't do it.

Again, I apologize for this.  I don't know my intentions with this post whatsoever, nor did I before I even started writing - this more or less exists because the topic was an idea I've had for a while, and I figure it won't get out of my mind until I just write it, be done with it, and continue on to the usual pretentious humour I write with.  Promise.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Look out, here comes the Spider-Man

Would it be shocking if I were to say that I love movies?  If you answered "yes" then remove yourself from this blog.

I've noted before that I've seen a colossal amount of movies this summer, and when I think about it, my bank account going into this upcoming school year would have been a few hundred dollars more comfortable.  (I try my hardest not to think about the extra cash I might've had if not shoving it at Cineplex for my popcorn and tickets, but it's difficult) I've seen everything from a super-superhero group three times to another horrible Tim Burton movie, from a self-administered alien c-section to Kristen Stewart proving she's the fairest of them all to Tom Cruise being an awkward rock star amidst some of the campiest camp I've seen.  Despite my obvious love for superhero movies I was never actually excited for The Amazing Spider-Man, partially because Spider-Man has never wowed me and partially because I have this fundamental spite for unnecessary remakes/reboots; this post then will first address how absolutely wrong I was about this movie and second the idea of remakes altogether.

Now that I think about it I should've known I'd like The Amazing Spider-Man.  It has an awesome cast: Andrew Garfield just visually makes a better awkward high school teenager than Tobey Maguire, not to mention he's a great actor (see: The Social Network); I don't even need to touch upon any sort of explanation about Emma Stone because she's talented and pretty and funny and so grounded and, weirdly, intoxicating.  It took a step backwards from the over-packed nonsense that was Spider-Man 3 with, what, seventy-five different villains or something?  It seemed more akin to the comics with the involvement of Gwen Stacy as opposed to MJ who, I think, will be forever tainted by Kirsten Dunst and her snaggleteeth.  (I'm too harsh on her.  I loved Melacholia) All in all, it should've been far up on my must-see list for the summer, but amidst the horrible Tom Cruise and alien c-sections and the upcoming end-of-my-life The Dark Knight Rises, it was swept aside as something I didn't care for.

And then there was the whole remake thing.  As I mentioned earlier, I'm somewhat against the idea of remakes happening in Hollywood.  In theory, I might support it: if taken seriously, I would stand behind a fresh take on a "classic" (depends on the original movie) to update it, to revitalize it, and to broaden its reach to a newer generation of audience.  And yet - do we ever get it?  We're hit with an onslaught of needless horror remakes which do nothing stick within the confines of unimaginative cliches.  Then, of course, we get the good ones: this past year's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo offered a more faithful adaption to the source material with a far more impressive Lisbeth Salander in Rooney Mara (who, coincidentally, failed as the center of the 2010 A Nightmare on Elm Street remake) than the muddled Swedish version.  Or, in terms of series reboots, Batman Begins, which, alongside its sequel The Dark Knight and surely its upcoming conclusion, I'd argue is one of the best franchises and the best superhero movie(s) to date.  Why can't all remakes be handled with the genius that Christopher Nolan has?

Not that I thought that The Amazing Spider-Man was going to be as horrific as something like Prom Night or Friday the 13th; rather: what would be the point of an artistic and cinematic re-imagination of a trilogy that wrapped up only six years ago?  I get that originally it was supposed to be a fourth entry with Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst once again up against Anne Hathaway as Black Cat (irony has her as Catwoman in the Batman Nolan-verse) - but what could be brought to the character that's so new it needs to be revisited only a decade after the first came to theaters?  And therein lay my lack of excitement: the trailers offered me nothing I hadn't already seen in terms of the costume, the web-slinging, the action.

And like I said.. I was completely wrong.

I'll say that I enjoyed TASM (I'm officially lazy) far more than I did any of the original three movies, even though I appreciate Spider-Man 2 as being seriously well-done, albeit a little overrated.  It's true that the movie didn't offer anything groundbreakingly new, considering we were given an origin story (complete with an Uncle Ben tragedy - that shouldn't be a spoiler although to be honest I thought he might die in a sequel) and the often-seen self-discovery jargon that comes with a newbie to a mask.  Perhaps against its favour was the fact that Spider-Man was in 2001 so it's still slightly fresh in our minds - I can even remember seeing it in theaters.  (Batman Begins, conversely, returned to a gritty Batman in 2005 who was [barely] last seen in 1991) And yet, I found myself having fun while watching, and I can say that director Marc Webb (ha) was successful in returning spark to the character and his world.  That was almost entirely in part to a seriously believable and perfectly snarky Peter Parker as well as goddamn Emma Stone who would probably make a mass murderer of children who sets fire to hospitals and dog shelters endearing.  Their chemistry was real, but that could be because they're a real life couple - aw - but the entire time I kept thinking 1. if they're going to follow the comics with Gwen as they should I will cry and 2. I do not want to see that ginger MJ anywhere near this couple and I can do without any love triangles in the sequel(s).

It was nice to see The Lizard onscreen finally, and he proved to be a scary and formidable opponent who hatched a last-ditch kill-the-whole-city plan that all superhero villains do.  Similarly fresh was not using the obvious choice of the Green Goblin, but the set-up for future installments with Oscorp and the spoiler spoiler after the credits was great to see.  Also great to see was the amount of humour coinciding with the grand action, which doesn't come to a shock considering Emma Stone has fantastic comedic timing and Andrew Garfield was similarly talented in that respect.  Perhaps the most visually stunning shots came in the point-of-view swinging we're offered, which was awesome to see in 3D as everything usually is.  (the 3D is worth the price)

Overall, I'd absolutely recommend it if you love comic book movies, action movies, or Emma Stone.  Get thee to the cinema!

Friday, June 22, 2012

My Drunk Blog: Carly Rae

Who needs to grapple with writer's block when this gem was festering in my unpublished folder?  Indeed, time and time again I stumble upon one of these hidden away from nights where I got home and decided the most sensible activity to spend my intoxicated time on is blogger; at least I have the sensibility to not publish when I finish writing, otherwise - you'd miss out on this very sober preface.  This post is from Saturday night written at around 3am because I suppose that's when I got home.  For a summer where I've not gone out to bars, Saturday was fairly successful - not one but three whole stops throughout the day interspersed with bands down at Sound of Music, especially Carly Rae Jepsen.  Such a prolonged day of drinking then leads to 1. a weeping wallet (I have since checked how much I spent and jesus christ) and 2. a very drunk Matt.  Oh, and 3. this fantastic piece of craftsmanship.

Do you know how much money I spent today?  I don't even know, but I remember to double space after every period because that's what my momma taught me.  No, there's literally five dollars in my wallet right now, and considering I withdrew money from atms three whole times today, this is a bad sight.  I'm afraid to check the balance in my bank account, so that will be for tomorrow.

Consdering Im front Burlington the Sound of Music festival is essentially the greatest joy in my meager life.  On Thursday night I saw the Arkells play who were really great, but I saw a girl with a leg brace crowd surf which was even better, and she had a pretty hard fall so I hope she isn't crippled for life, that'd suck but it'd kinda be funny.  Then i went to the Poacher and I got drunk.  On Friday I went down to the lake with no band in mind and then there was these old men playing on the main stage so we left and went to the Poacher again and I got drunk again, but more than the night before, and then I walked home which absofuckinglutely sucked.  I wanted death the entire way.  An hour nd a half walking if you were wondering.  Also when I was walking up my street a car came up onto the sidewalk and started chasing me, and I shit you not.  It chased me up my street until I ran across the street in panic and then a taxi came in the opposite direction so the chasing car couldn't follow me into my house.  Seriously, I can't make this story up.  I was also holding beer and an ipod speaker so I probably looked hotter than I usually do every day just like I am now, seriously.

Today I met my wife, Carly Rae Jepsen, only she didn't meet me.  Hidden away in the beer tent my three friends and I waited pateintly for this goddamn girl to take the stage, and when she did, eight count em eight girls stood up on a collapsible plastic table to see better.  They blocked my view entirely but my satisfaction came in knowing the table buckled like hell, and gods I wish that table collapsed and I wish I witnessed a pile of girls happen on the ground screeching in pain.  After a while the security made them get down and I was able to then fully see my lovely Carly Rae who I must say 1. is one year older than Lady Gaga which is fucking weird cause you'd think Gaga would be much much more mature given that she's a crazy hussy and 2. she was acting fucking stoned as shit.  "I'm gonna sing about angels now!" she said and then I was probs uninterested but the song didn't have to do with angels you idiot.  She sang this song about a guitar string wedding ring which was sickeningly adorbs and Carly, I don't play guitar so I can't give you said wedding ring, so I'll give you a ring made up of my luscious curls.  Call Me Maybe was off the hook.  Then, we went to a restaraunt where my friend serves at, and I drank a beer and fish.  Then we saw some other band and bounced off to another restaraunt where I ate another damn entree and drank three more damn beers.  From there my friend and I went on to another friend's birthday where I drank I don't know, enough to make me not know how I got home right now considering I don't know how the hell I got home.  Drinks galore, I" got drunk, the birthday girl was cut off after an hour and a half or so, and I was proud.  I kept drinking and apparently spent a hundred dollars, then I somehow got home some way, and here I am.  It's like 3am and I probably don't have a liver no mo.

I haven't had much fun this summer but it's cool because then days like thishappen where I drink a fuck ton and I'm like, true.  I should be barred from writing while drunk, but I tried writing a few essays drunk this year at school and no word of a lie I didn't proof read them and I still got 80s.  Holla, I'm a drunk genius, you bitty.  I like the word bitty, and now I'm listening to Metric who I also like, a lot.  If you took a piece of guitar string, I would wear it like it's a wedding ring!  Angels.  I'm not really done to be honest.  Drinking, I mean.

Land of dreams, land of dreams, come and find your land of dreams, only America sucks and that commercial really does not make America look like America, I would've filmed fat people rolling in and out of a McDonald's location and that is the American Dream.  I hate how everything I experience while drunk is fast forwarded because.  Last time I wrote when I was drinking I thought there was a killer in my house and to be honest I'm not convinced there isn't one in my house currently, that's how paranoid and Criminal Minds I am.  My mom is afraid someone will use a univeral garage door opener like some dude killer on Criminal Minds and enter my house to kill us all while we sleeps so now I'm afraid and damnit I'm running up to my room right now with my computer.  Okay I'm back, I'm now in my room and I'm in bed with my computer, my one true girlfriend.  At least I'm safe from the Criminal Minds unsubs, but I'm not sure.  I could die.  If this is never published, I'm sorry.  There are eyelashes stuck in my eyes, good night.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The war won't stop for the love of god

My summer has thus far been entirely uneventful.  I've spent more time at work than I have at home, I drink more with my family than I do out at bars, and I've seen eight movies in theaters in the past month - eight, and not unique.  Regardless, I'm thankful I'm not in class for the time being - and yet, my summer already seems as though it's dwindling, mainly because I'm going to Florida for two weeks rolling into August, and I have about a week at home before I move back to commence my don training.  Despite my mundane few months being home and school free, I had a noteworthy weekend, and while it might seem like this post will take a turn for the worse, rest assured that it won't.

On Friday, I saw Prometheus, so allow me to offer a semi-review: whaaaat did I just see?  I initially wasn't looking forward to the movie at all, mainly because I've never considered myself a fan of the sort of science fiction that involves aliens.  I'll hand it to the marking, then, for winning me over and making it one of my must-sees this summer; that alarm noise from the commercials haunts my dreams, and the stellar (pun?) cast didn't hurt.  To prepare, I sped through the entire Alien series in three days, the first two being some of those movies that I always meant to see, the third, just good, and the fourth which I'll pretend doesn't even exist.  I fully understand how iconic the character of Ripley is now, and she's a badass.

Prometheus, I'd heard, is some sort of semi-prequel to the franchise, though now that I've seen it nothing extends past a handful of references here and there and a surprise appearance at the very end.  (was that a spoiler? Meh)  To be honest, I kept expecting the movie to shift into the formula that Alien itself followed, what with the discovery of a planet (check) with strange ruins and weird eggs (check) leading to the second half 'there's an alien on the loose!' horror that never actually happened in Prometheus; and therefore by the time the plot wrapped up I couldn't even believe it was already over.  What happened instead, though, was a sequence of events so bizarre and seemingly farfetched that it would sound even ludicrous to try to explain.  I will say that the movie has one of the most disgusting scenes I've ever witnessed - surgery, technology, aliens within - and I can't strike the images from my mind.  The special effects were astounding - I wish I'd seen it in 3D, so I guess I'll have to go see it again! - and the acting, especially Michael Fassbender, was rather good.  Fassbender was literally incredible as an android, but he's always incredible, so I'm not surprised.  I'd recommend the movie to anyone who's a fan of Alien or aliens or spaceships with chest-bursting aliens and androids and self-surgeries and goddamnit is Charlize Theron a robot or not?, but the gore and heavy-handed mythology might be too much for some.

On Sunday I went to Canada's Wonderland for the first time in a long time but the way in which things transpired was less than favourable: I've discovered that I'm not as used to rides as I used to be, and that, combined with sweltering heat and a neglecting of hydration, leads to one vomiting in one's mouth while on The Bat.  (too much information?) The obvious first stop of the day was the new roller coaster, Leviathan, which, after an hour and a half wait, was a blast, but it was hardly nice to my hair.  I felt it then, the light-headedness, but I'd remembered that almost all rides now make me dizzy once coming off of them and the long line-ups would provide enough time for me to recuperate before doing it all again.  And yet, apparently, riding Leviathan twice in a row wasn't beneficial to my dizziness, and as the day carried on the sun beat hotter and my shirt got progressively wetter from sweat.  When we got to The Bat, I knew something was off - it's worth mentioning that The Bat and rides like it usually get me queasy as it is, but I'm usually able to ride it anyways - and by the time the car climbed up the inversions backwards, whatever was in my stomach (nothing, as I stupidly didn't eat before I left) came up.  I blame The Bat and the sun for then ruining the rest of my day because I couldn't bring myself to ride many other rides; things like Top Gun (what the hell is it called now anyways) or Behemoth had to be skipped because I knew they'd do me in, and with every ride came about a half an hour's down time between them while chugging water to compensate for the dehydration I know I had.  I don't know if I'm really unable to ride amusement park rides anymore or if it's just because the day was so hot and I was mindless about drinking water, but you could imagine how much of a task riding something as tame as Windseeker would be.  Nevertheless I still had a good time.

On Monday I accompanied a friend to a free Metric concert in Toronto.  I guess I've always been a casual fan of Metric - I know their songs, I have a fair amount of them on my iTunes, but I've never been a die-hard, so I was initially resistant to going.  I've never actually gone to a legitimate outdoor concert before - truthfully, I actually haven't been to a concert aside from the three Lady Gaga outings I've gone to - so I was excited to an extent.  We got there around three, five hours before the concert was to start, and we were the third and fourth people there.  The sun was as hot as it was when I was in Wonderland but it didn't seem it considering I spent the entire day sitting down against the front barricades to ensure standing at the front of the crowd, but I came away from this weekend with a nice tan.  The rain came with the slow crowd of people forming around us, and come eight o'clock we were pressed against the very front of the stage by the hoard behind us.  I'd vowed to never do another general admission concert again after my horror story that was the first Gaga concert I went to - sweating and Latey Gaga (by three hours) and fistfights! - but, even in the sheets of rain and the water pouring down my back because of the umbrella held directly behind me, everything was worth it to be at the very front.  And Metric, they were fantastic.  The only played seven songs - I didn't expect much, as it was a free concert on a fairly small scale stage - but they're phenomenal live and the lead singer Emily Haines looking directly at me with crazy eyes while singing Monster Hospital has sent me into this crazy rabid fandom in the past few days where I'm now confident enough to say yeah, I'm a pretty big fan of them.  They played six songs from their new album Synthetica (which I 'studied' before going) as well as the aforementioned closing song, and I know now I crave a full length concert where I'd hear Stadium Love played live.

To be honest my proofread of this post completely bored me; either way I haven't posted in a short while and I'm not about to delete the past hour's worth of writing and, well, should you come to this sentence, bravo.  I should hope the past few days of excitement might be a precursor to more fun I'm to have this summer!