Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Super Vegetarian Cafe Waiter??

A new Superman movie comes out next summer. Which I'm really looking forward to. However, I've been a little worried about how the pictures we've seen so far are looking. Superman hasn't been looking very superhero-like. He was looking more like... I don't know... a waiter in a vegetarian cafe.

However, just like with the recent Batman Begins movie, a good story and good acting can overcome many concerns. Back then, I was concerned about how Batman was looking too. And that movie *rocked*.

In fact, the most recent Superman photo released looks a LOT better than any of the previous ones:

So let's keep hoping!

The Deep Compulsion I Can't Ignore Much Longer...

Thank heavens I have kids.

And of course, I say that for lots of reasons. However, what I mean specifically today is, "Thank heavens I have kids, because otherwise I would have a much harder time getting cool toys like we get for the kids at Christmas time."

This year, they got a few toys that I simply need to spend a little quality time with.

The first one is the Star Wars Lightsaber Battle Game. It's a video game that comes with a lightsaber that you actually use. I mean to say, you swing the lightsaber, and you can actually interact (ie. battle) with the characters on the screen. Words don't do this game justice. Let's just say that it's really cool.

The other thing is something that I have been resisting, but it keeps calling me.

"Rooooobinnnnn... I'm in here waiting for you.... come play with me....."

"No, I can't right now!", I say. "People will hear me!"

"Nobody will care", it says. "Come iiiiiiinnnnn...."

It keeps calling.

The karaoke machine.

And it's wearing me down.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

O Holy Night, I Sit Here Quietly Blogging...

So here I am on Christmas Eve typing in my blog. Does this demonstrate my dedication to recording my personal comments, or is it just pathetic?

Don't answer that.

My wife's just left to start her midnight shift at the hospital, the three little kids are asleep, and my folks are here, the teenagers are here, and we're just chilling.

Actually, it's been so busy around here lately, I haven't had a chance to post, or else when I DID have a chance, there wasn't a friggin' computer available. Teenagers.

First thing, we actually did finish that Simpsons puzzle. Day five was the day. Thank heavens for that big honking magnifying glass. My poor old eyes wouldn't have managed otherwise. Sadly, Day 6 was the day that the puzzle was disassembled. I fought that one tooth and nail. However, the voice of reason (ie. my wife's voice) won out. At least, I got one final photo for posterity.

Next thing, and I don't believe this is likely ever to be repeated in the annals of family history, but we took all five kids to the movies twice in three days. On Wednesday night we saw Narnia, and last night we saw Harry Potter. (Remember when I was determined not to take my four year old and possibly not even my eight year olds to Harry Potter? Well, we did it. And they loved it.)

Narnia, by the way, was amazing. I read all the books to the kids, and so there were no surprises, but I was really impressed by how well it adapted to the screen. In fact, I was even more impressed with the movie than I was by the book in some spots. Somehow the movie managed to really convey the scope of the story in a way I never got by reading the books.

Anyway, here we are. My wife won't get home from work until around 830am, and we are going to (please hold your laughter) try to hold off the children from coming in the living room to see if Santa has arrived until then.

I haven't figured out how to keep the kids' heads from exploding yet, however.

We thought about drugging them. The four year old is already sleeping with the benefit of Tylenol Cough and Cold formula, thanks to a nagging cough that had me sitting up with him at 5am this morning so he could sleep, because he coughed too much lying down. (Whoops, tangent, sorry.) In any case, we figured we could pretend they all had a cough, and drug them all. But then (and I admit we were getting a little punchy at this point) we worried that if we gave them too much, they might sleep until Boxing Day. And we would have to *pretend* it was still Christmas Day. Then, later on, we would have to tell them that school was starting back up a day early, and then it would go on and on... so we abandoned that plan. (Note to new parents: Don't really drug your kids for your own convenience... unless it's *really* important!)

Oh, finally, we also took a 'Christmas' picture of the five kids to send out by e-mail with our annual Christmas message, and just in the nick of time since it's Christmas eve and all. But here it is.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Joy to the World, 24's Coming On

Yesterday I was chatting with a buddy, and he asked me,

"Which are you more excited for: Christmas, or '24' starting back up?"

"Duh," says I. "24, of course!"

"Me too," says he.

Don't get me wrong, Christmas is nice too. But we haven't had any "24" since last May! And that's a LOOONNNNGGGG time for '24' fans. (Oh, by the way, special thanks to Melanie for opening the door to such a special period in all our lives... she loaned me the dvd's for season one, which got the ball rolling three years ago)

It's high time for Jack Bauer to start saving the free world, beating unbelievable odds, solving impossible problems, and kicking more butt than any other person could ever hope to kick in a twenty-four hour period.

January 15th and 16th. Four hours in two days. You'll know where to find everyone in our house older than eight.

But don't call.

Because we won't answer the phone.

Oh, and the great Simpsons Puzzle Marathon continues... Day 3 was pretty mild, but Day 4 showed us making some serious headway. The end is in sight!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Day.... two.... completed...

Must... sleep... no.... must... keep.... doing... puzzle....

Ok, well, it's not *quite* that bad, although I concede that some optional activities (like personal hygiene and feeding the children) have been deferred in favour of getting in as much puzzle time as possible.

It is contagious though. The 4 and 8-year-olds decided that they would have a puzzle day too. They pulled out as many puzzles as they could find, and assembled them on the kitchen floor. They were very pleased with themselves for completing so many puzzles, especially considering that *we* (the adults and teenagers) hadn't yet finished our ONE.

However, barring any unforeseen circumstances, I'm thinking that Day 3 might be the day.

Or maybe Day 4.

At least, DEFINITELY before Christmas. So we'll have somewhere to eat the turkey.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Where's My Mother When I Really Need Her??

There are things in the world I like.

I like photomosaics. You know, the millions of little pictures arranged in such a way that they make a really cool big picture. I have a book full of them. I find them fascinating.

I also like the Simpsons. Not Jessica and her equally flaky sister, I mean Homer and Marge and Bart and Lisa and Maggie. I don't want to know how much of my life has been spent watching those shows.

I also like jigsaw puzzles. On occasion. For some nice quiet family time.



Because it's making my head hurt.

My 13-year-old got it for Christmas last year, and we've been meaning to get to it for a while. So we started today. Around 3 pm. It's now 1030pm. On what I think I will need to call "Day 1 of the Simpsons Puzzle Marathon."

You know who we really need?

My mother. The jigsaw puzzle solving machine. I buy her the freakiest puzzles, ones with no straight edges, extra pieces, 3-dimensional, and she puts all of them together.

But she's five hours away.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. My parents are coming up for Christmas.

And I have a strong feeling that the puzzle will still be 'in process' on our kitchen table at that time.

Stay tuned. Day 2 approaches!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Quick & Painful Brownie Chunks

Help ease yourself into the stressful Christmas season by whipping up some Quick & Painful Brownie Chunks!

Just follow these simple steps:

1) Thaw your container of brownie mix that you bought from your kids' school.

2) Take out your non-stick (ha ha) mini muffin pans, and put a scoop of the mix into each cup just like the directions say.

3) Cook them for 15 to 20 minutes. It doesn't matter which, they won't come out right anyway. Oh, wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

4) Take them out. Put them on the counter to cool. Before they cool, scoop out part of one for your four-year-old so he doesn't have a brain aneurysm.

5) Allow to cool fully.

6) Take a spatula or some other item which won't damage the non-stick (ha ha) coating of the pan, and carefully run it along the edges of the muffins.

7) Pop out the top chunk of each of the 24 muffins into a container, remember to curse each one individually, and leave the crumbled mess of muffin remains in your pan.

8) Photograph the whole disaster, and write about it in your blog so that you can feel *some* sense of accomplishment.

9) Get on a chair, retrieve the big bottle of Kahlua from the back of the top shelf of your pantry closet, and drink directly from the bottle until the urge subsides.

10) NEVER make those godd*mn brownies again.

Clearly Martha Stewart I'm not. Oh well, I guarantee you the kids will eat the whole mess anyway.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

My Own Personal Hallmark Moment

Today we finally put ornaments on our tree. I say "finally" because it seems like such a bloody long time since our little kids have been harrassing the CRAP out of us to do it. They started the barrage on November 28th.

Once we get to it though, it's always nice. All the kids have ornaments of their own, or that they made, that have some value to them.

In fact, I do too:

Years ago, back when I worked for Montreal Trust (which I sentimentally refer to as the bad old days) I had a friend named Melody who I shared a cubicle with. She was very nice and put up with me admirably. When Christmas came along, I wanted to get her a small gift of some kind. The thing that immediately came to mind was that she was a collector of Hallmark Christmas ornaments. When I went to find one to buy for her, I was a little concerned over what ones she owned already. How would I know what to buy?

Then my eyes fell on... the WONDER WOMAN ornament that came out that year. How perfect! Not only did it fit my own comic book geek sensibilities, but I was certain that there would have been hundreds of other ornaments that she would have purchased for herself before that one! I bought it for her right away.

As the last work day before Christmas arrived, I had the gift all wrapped and ready to give to Melody. In fact, she had a gift for me as well. As we exchanged gifts, I noted that her gift for me was about the same size and weight as mine for her. When I opened the gift she gave me, I couldn't help but laugh out loud:

A Wonder Woman Hallmark Christmas ornament.

So, we had each picked a gift for the other that was a mix of our own and the other's interests. The same gift.

One additional footnote to this story: There was one slight difference between the gifts. Apparently, die-hard Hallmark Ornament collectors refuse to pull the little perforated price tab off the edge of the ornament box. Of course, I pulled the tab off the one I bought for Melody; naturally, she refused to damage the collectability of the one she bought me by removing the tab. She cared and I didn't. So what else could we do? We switched boxes, but kept the actual ornaments that the other had given us.

So there's my Christmas story. Ok, well, it's not "The Gift of the Magi" I admit, but it still makes me smile every year.

And Merry Christmas, Melody.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ok, So He Doesn't Get It Yet

My 8-year-old son just passed by me with a messy face. I did the time-honoured old "lick the thumb and wipe the kid's face the old fashioned way" quick cleanup.

He objected.

"Daa--aa--ad! That's gross! That makes your germs get in my mouth!"

I tell him, "You came from me! Your germs are my germs!"

Then he gives me the zinger:

"I came from MOM! You MARRIED her!"


I ponder for a moment.

Then I let him take the win on that one.

However... at some point... I believe he is going to get a bit of a surprise.

I Used to Have Election Fever, But I Took Some Motrin and I'm Feeling Better Now

So we're having another election.

How can I *possibly* contain my excitement?

(I hope the heavy sarcasm is readable in this comment. For those who are sarcastically challenged... what are you doing reading this blog anyway??)

I am so uninterested in the bluster and the bullsh*t from all these people. It's the same story year after year, no matter who wins or loses.

I will go out and vote, don't get me wrong. Otherwise I wouldn't feel entitled to complain. But that's as far as it goes.

However, I do have one interesting thing to mention as far as politics is concerned.

I got Pierre Trudeau's autograph back when I was in junior high. And I was even photographed doing it, though I didn't know that at the time.

It was just before he lost the election in the late 1970's. After six months he won it back again though. Then retired, if I recall correctly. Or something like that.

Let me say for the record though, I was never the poster boy for Liberal Youth or anything like that. The truth is, Pierre Trudeau was more like a rock star than a politician. On top of that, he was a brilliant man who also wasn't above flipping an average citizen the bird if he felt it was deserved. So when my dad offered me the chance to go see him speak, I jumped at it. And the rest is history.

p.s. Will somebody let me know if Paul Martin comes to town? Maybe I can bring my kids to see him. After all, he's.... mmf... pffttt....sptt..... BWAA-HA-HA-HAAAAAAA!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

ALERT ALERT strange boy in the house ALERT ALERT

My teenage daughter comes home from school today, and *casually* mentions, "Oh, so-and-so might drop by this afternoon." A boy.


Immediately, I started thinking about the fastest way to "NO"... but then again, it was a good opportunity to observe the enemy.

And, by "the enemy", I define that as "any boy who ever wants to date or even hang out with my daughter." Just so we're clear on that.

So anyway, I said OK. Well, actually, I said "No way in hell is anybody coming here with the house looking like THIS" ...which was an amazing way to get two teenagers (since the 16-year-old immediately recruited the 13-year-old brother) to tidy up a house in an amazingly short period of time. I want this kid to come back for no other reason than that!

So he shows up. Seems nice enough. He even liked comic books. However, it hasn't escaped me that I myself was also a pretty nice teenage boy. And I still REMEMBER being a teenage boy. So this young man will never be able to lull me into a false sense of complacency. EVER.

For approximately four hours, we subject him to intense sibling interaction. I must particularly thank my four-year-old, who was so excited to have a new person to show off to, that he basically sat, bounced, and crashed on the young man for just about the whole time. It was awesome. It couldn't have worked out any better if I gave him a bottle of red food colouring to chug beforehand.

And strangely enough, it somehow happened that there was always at least one sibling present for the entire duration of the visit. Funny how things work out like that.

So that went alright. Using the words of the immortal Jed Clampett, I put forth to the young man: "Y'all come back now, y'hear??".

Because I need my house cleaned again.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Parent-Teenager Negative Permission Interaction Template; aka "The Quickest Way to NO"

Parents! Frustrated by long, rambling arguments with teens who are seeking permission which you're not prepared to give? Is it taking you longer and longer to get to "NO"???

Worry no longer! Print multiple copies of the following template. Keep a copy for yourself, and give a copy to every teenager (or teenager in training) in your household! Once everyone follows the template, you will find your self getting to "NO" faster and faster every time!

OK, here we go. Just jump right in!

Teen: Unrelated butter-up comment

Parent: Suspicious response

Teen: Request for permission for social engagement with details as vague as possible

Parent: Deferment of permission pending full disclosure of details

Teen: Either (a) befuddled attempt to provide non-details masquerading as details, or (b) provision of details with avoidance of specifics which fall outside of established family rules of social engagement

Parent: Deferment of permission pending resolution of concerns related to possible infringement of established family rules of social engagement

Teen: Concerns over suitability of established family rules of social engagement, vis-a-vis the clearly increased level of maturity of the parties involved

Parent: Amused response at doomed attempt to invoke rules amendment during an ongoing social engagement permission request meeting

Teen: Frustrated comment only loosely related to the discussion at hand

Parent: Caution regarding status of discussion being put in jeopardy

Teen: Barely audible response (typically under breath with back turned, intended for personal satisfaction only)

Parent: Request for more audible repetition of previous comment

Teen: Disavowal of said comment having ever been uttered

Parent: Expression of reluctance to continue the social engagement permission response meeting

Teen: Last feeble attempt to secure permission

Parent: Permission denied.

Teen: stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp stomp SLAM!!!!

Congratulations! You've arrived at "NO"!!

p.s. My future segment entitled "Getting to YES" requires more work before it's ready for release. My teenagers and I are currently working towards an efficient and successful template. Wish us luck!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Blinded by the Force

A few weeks ago, Burger King released another line of cool little Star Wars toys to coincide with the release of the new Star Wars movie on DVD. Just like they did several months ago, to coincide with the release of the movie in theatres

However, THIS time I think I have an explanation of why I obsessively traveled from Burger King to Burger King trying to get the ones we didn't have yet... and especially the toy which we came to recognize as the Holy Grail of Star Wars toys... cute little Yoda.

They beamed the message directly into my brain.

Let me explain.

Each toy has its own 'thing.' Last time, some of the toys would move their arms when you wind them up, or vibrate, or walk around, or even (this will be important later) have a hole in the bottom which you could look through to see a picture from one of the movies.

THIS time, the toys had a new 'thing.' Some of them were spin tops, and some of them had little holes in the bottom like last time.

Here's where the problem developed.

On our first trip to Burger King, one of the toys had a little hole in the bottom. Naturally I expect to see a picture from the movie. So I look into it. Nothing happens. Upon further examination, I see a button on the toy's back as well. So I put my eye up to the hole, and press the button.


This time the toy was a projector which projects a picture a short distance away with a red light.

So, basically, I pressed the button, and projected a red laser light directly into my brain. (Okay, maybe it wasn't a LASER light, but I might have argued with you at the time).

Needless to say, I was a little surprised.

Only now, with the passage of time, do I recognize the insidiousness of Burger King marketing.

At the time, I simply thought that I nearly blinded myself. Now, I realize that there was probably a secret message encoded in the light which acts on a subconscious level, instructing the victim to acquire all the Star Wars toys that they offer.

Now that I've figured it out, I feel better. I'm simply an unwitting victim, rather than a totally obsessive geek.