Monday, February 27, 2006

Stop! I Have Me Surrounded!

This could possibly be the greatest birthday present ever.

In case I've never mentioned it before, I love movies. Especially on DVD.

HOWEVER, I now realize that I had NO idea WHAT I was missing before I got...

My Surround Sound speakers.

Oh. My. God.

Yes, I had a nice size widescreen tv. Yes, I had a nice little Sony DVD player with component video outputs. But I was like a kid playing little league baseball. Now I'm MAJOR LEAGUE, BABY!!

The sound difference is INCREDIBLE. All of a sudden, I hear sounds on my movies that I never heard before. I hear *background* noise coming from *behind* me! I can *hear* MOTION!!

Now, I want to play all my Star Wars DVD's all over again! And the Lord of the Rings movies! And the Matrix movies! And my new Eagles Live in Melbourne concert! And the Incredibles, and Minority Report, and all my 24 dvd collections! And I want to play them all LOOUUUUDDDDDD!!!!!

There's only one problem.

She who must not be named.

She who doesn't like loud things.

She who would prefer if TV's didn't use sound (except that it does occasionally give her the auditory cue to avert her eyes from her laptop for a brief moment).

She who thought that the TV was too loud *before*.

So how will we deal with her? I say "we", because I have acquired five allies. All five of the children. All I needed to do was play them a movie using the system. Then, to top it off, I hooked up the GameCube to it as well. Let's just say that they were suitably impressed.

But back to She Who Must Not Be Named.

Maybe I could go to a blasting company and try to buy those big earmuff headset thingies they wear. That might work.

Or maybe I could find something that *she* likes to watch, and have her watch it in surround.

Wait, she doesn't like anything on TV. Well, she does watch 24 with us, but not with the same fervent intensity that the teenagers and I watch it with. She actually types on her laptop while the show is on! Can you believe it? We can't.

Well, this is clearly a dilemma akin to the Gordian Knot. Or at least a Chinese Finger Puzzle. No solution yet.

But I'll let you know if one develops.

Suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Hai Karate!

OK, now I'm having flashbacks.

My two eight-year-olds got their first 'coloured' belts in their karate class today (they had white belts before, but in karate, pretty much the only purpose for white belts is to hold up your pants).

I took a few pictures of them, and I started to get a whiff of deja vu. I now realize I can make my own series:

Karate Kids, Part 1 (2000):

Karate Kids, Part 2 (2006):

I think we'll have to wait a few more years for part three. But stay tuned!!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Think Pink

I'm back. Sorry if you missed me! Let's just say, I was having a hard time finding anything amusing for the last few days!

However, I did get to see the new "Pink Panther" movie. It was quite special, in the sense that it was a late show on a Tuesday, and my wife and I, for the first time ever, had a totally private showing. Not another soul was in the theatre. Which was kind of neat.

Anyway, back to the movie.

I didn't despise it, like I worried I might. I have special memories of the old Pink Panther movies, which I remember my parents taking me to in the 70's.

It was actually pretty amusing.

Nothing you need to *really* work hard to figure out, though. It's all pretty much right there.

The only problem, and not all of you will have this problem, is:

Peter Sellers *created* the character of Inspector Clouseau. Steve Martin has to do his *impression* of Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau.

So, other than that, it was pretty entertaining. I remember reading that they toned down or edited out a lot of the more risque jokes, to play to a broader audience. I can still see a hint of that in the movie, but it's still very family friendly. (Maybe we'll see some of those *other* jokes on the dvd)

Think of it as "Brokeback Mountain" meets "the Matrix", without any of the guy-guy cowboy stuff, or any of the cool science fiction martial arts stuff.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Everything But... Um, I Mean *Everyone In*... the Kitchen Sink

So here's another one from the vault. Sometime in 2000.

It's an... environmental shot. You know. Water conservation.

Sort of looks like fun, though, doesn't it?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

"Flash"-back to 1991...

We all have "bad VCR stories", right?

I have a few. For instance, when I was in high school, I taped the Beatles' "Let It Be" documentary from a rental of an RCA Videodisc (an ancient precursor to dvd's). I loved that movie.

Until I over-taped it with "Another World."


That one was just a warmup, though. The story that always stays in my mind as the pinnacle of bad VCR stories is this one:

In 1990, shortly after the Tim Burton "Batman" movie had hit so big, a tv show was created based on another comic book hero... the Flash.

I really liked the show. It was pretty cool.

However, it only lasted one season. Apparently, was very expensive to make, and never really got a big enough audience to justify the cost. As well, towards the end of the show they moved it all around the schedule, so you never really knew when it was coming on. Very irritating.

I remember when the very final episode was being broadcast, in 1991. I had taped many of the episodes, and on the current cassette I was using, there was just enough space for the last one hour show. I wasn't going to be home when it was on, so I trusted the VCR to tape it. Which it did.

The next day, I sit down to watch it. The show starts off great. In it, the Flash gets caught in some kind of explosion where he gets shot about ten or fifteen years into the future. In that time, the bad guy has become mayor, and his city is totally corrupted. Everyone thought the Flash just took off and never returned... it's all very dramatic.

Twenty minutes into the episode, just as it's shaping up to be really good...




Why is my tape rewinding?

Oh. No.

The week before, a friend asked me to dub her brother's wedding video. So I changed my VCR to the slowest setting for high quality.


So, basically, I taped just the first twenty minutes of the very last ever Flash episode instead of the entire hour.


Let's just say I wasn't too impressed. I won't say that it scarred me for life, but I must concede that it affected me strongly enough that I'm blogging about it fifteen years later... right?

And, to this day, I still don't know how that episode ended.


Guess what I just got for my birthday???

Friday, February 17, 2006


OK, so now I'm forty.


Doesn't feel much different. But it is a *little* weird.

My kids were so excited this morning... more than I was, for that matter. But it's pretty neat to watch. They all made me cards. The two main themes in the cards were: "me being old" and/or "me having a new tattoo."

I was planning on having a few friends over tonight, to celebrate the wonderfulness of me. However, something I just saw on the Internet Movie Database may cause me to change my plans:

So, based on this new information, it's possible that a jet might arrive at the airport this evening, to spirit me away to an alcohol-and-cocaine-fueled all-night binge party.

Therefore, if you happen to show up at my house tonight, and I'm not there...

Well, think a good thought for me.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

For Your Viewing Pleasure...

... my brand new tattoo.

First off, I must admit to having been a little apprehensive today before going. I was able to discern my apprehension by the fact that my general speech was heavily peppered with expletives. ("Has anyone seen my f***ing sneakers?", and that kind of thing.) It was totally unconscious.

However, once I got there, it was all butter. The artist was a very nice, pleasant man who set my mind at ease immediately. He was happy for my 16 year old to be present and take a few pictures.

He showed me what he was going to do, and what he was going to use.

He showed me my own design that he traced on some kind of stencil paper. He put some gunk on my arm, then laid the paper on my arm, which gave him a design on my arm to work with.

Then he started tattooing.

And it was TOTALLY fine. It, like, stung a *tiny* bit... no, even stinging doesn't do it justice. It was a bit like *scraping.* I was completely impressed.

In less than an hour he was done.

Take a look at these:

Here's the stencil on my arm...

Here's the artist, Merle, working...

All done!

Isn't this cool?

Oh, and here's an interesting anecdote as a follow up:

I went to Thursday night volleyball as usual, three hours after the tattoo was finished. One of the other players, I knew, had a new tattoo just a couple of months ago. So I showed him mine.

He almost slapped it! He said, "That's not real! There's no way that would look like that if you had it done today! If you said you had it done a week ago, I would have believed you!!"

It looked so good, and was so well healed, that he really didn't believe it. Chalk it up to clean living and good health(and a nifty little homeopathic remedy called Arnica... which I've used on my family for years now...)!

One possible problem, though:

The artist warned me that they might be addictive.

And I see what he means.

I *love* my new tattoo.

What should I do for my other arm? ;)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


OK, so there I was yesterday. I realized that my birthday was approaching... Friday, in fact. And I didn't have a tattoo design since I had to abandon my overly grandiose idea.

But an idea had been percolating in my brain for days. Sometimes my best work is done as background processing.

So I sat down at the computer, and in less than half an hour I had it. Had a couple of variations too, but one was my clear favourite. Printed them out the proper size, and they still looked ok.

Ran them by a few select people, and almost without exception they confirmed that my favourite was the right one to go with. It's nice and basic but iconic, and it carries all the things I want it to. Also, it's my own design, which I really wanted to do. I didn't want one that someone else has, or someone else made up.

I took it to the tattoo artist, who agreed that it could be done, although possibly one small area might need enlarging to preserve the detail. Which is fine.

So they asked if I wanted to book an appointment.


"Yes," I said. "Hm... Thursday?"

4 pm.

So there we have it. My birthday is on Friday, and tomorrow, on the last day of my thirties, I will be decorating myself in a permanent manner.

Wish me luck. If I can, I'll have my cohort (she who wants her *own* tattoo) with me to capture the occasion.


Um, scratch that. I mean... Whoo-hoo!


Well, at least I'm sure it won't be as bad as the kidney transplant surgery.



(and if all else fails, I can always switch to the "Elmer Fudd butt" design...)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Some Olympic Heart for Valentine's Day

Since it's Valentine's Day, it's appropriate to talk about heart.

*This* is why I watch the Olympics.

Last night, I watched a Chinese couple performing in the pairs free skate. The man, Zhang Hao, throws his partner Zhang Dan into a huge quadruple spin. Somewhere between the third and fourth rotation, she tries to come out of it, and ends up in a horrible crash to the ice. Just watching it made me feel ill. The way her legs splayed out made me worry for her ability to walk, never mind the damage to her bones and muscles and tendons. Her partner helps her up and helps her off the ice. I was visualizing someone putting her on a stretcher and speeding her out of the building.

So then what does she do? She pauses for a minute, then *goes back out on the ice and starts skating again.*

THEN, she and her partner RESUME THEIR PROGRAM! And they FINISH it! She jumps, spins, and performs in unbelievable style. Despite the awful crash, they earn a silver medal.

It's a showing of heart like I've never seen. This is one of those Olympic moments I guarantee you that I will never forget.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Welcome to my Adolescence

I don't know when a person's sexual identity gets formed, but if it happens during adolescence, here's the image that cemented it for me:

Man. This picture just killed me. I had this poster on my wall for *years*. Farrah Fawcett, Charlie's Angels... It was like magic.


On another topic: Yay, it's Monday! That means... 24's on tonight!! (If you're *still* not watching it, go to Television Without Pity and read the wickedly funny recaps of all the episodes so far... then start watching!!)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Advance Notice

Well, here we are.

Getting a snow storm.

Mom's sleeping finally, after working a 12 hour backshift, then staying up to participate in Karate and Gymnastics events through the morning and early afternoon.

So she's safe.

However... the REST of them....

Who can't manage to get out of each other's way...

And can't seem to play quietly, or do ANYTHING quietly...

Certainly not AGREE on anything, no matter how trivial...

Well, let's just say, if you see in the news:

"Canadian Dad Snaps: Entire Family Wiped Out in Bizarre Brain Explosion"....

Remember that you heard it here first.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Washed my Mouth... I Mean my BRAIN... out with Soaps

Here's one of the (admittedly many) skeletons from my closet:

I watched a lot of soap operas when I was young.

My grandmother, who lived with my parents and me, and was my primary caregiver while my parents were at work, was an avid soap watcher. She called them her "programs."

I have strong recollections of "The Edge of Night", which was on even before I started school. We also watched "Another World" which, I must say, was definitely our *main* show. We also followed its spin-off called "Texas" which didn't last too long, but we stuck with it for as long as it lasted. When "Texas" ended, to fill the gaping void in our lives, we switched to "General Hospital"... I think I was in high school by then, and I even continued to watch it when I went away to university. I'm afraid to think of how many hours of my young life were spent absorbing the stuff.

However, I'm *sure* it had no impact on my developing interactions with real people.

Except now, I finally understand why my wife doesn't care for some of my tendencies which I may have unconsciously absorbed from all my "programs"...

Making a dramatic statement, then staring blankly ahead while I wait for the scene to cut away...

Never saying anything new without recapping everything that's gone on in the last few days, even though nothing important *ever* happened...

Using any social event to approach and confront all the people who have wronged me...

But hey, it's all worked for me so far!

(... this post has been brought to you by Palmolive. Softens your hands while you do dishes. You're soaking in it!)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Arise, Lord Tater

Did I ever mention that I'm not exactly the poster child for impulse control? Especially where toys are concerned.

That being said, I've been pretty good about not going crazy buying stuff for my kids except for birthdays and special occasions.

Today, however, was another story.

I was in the comic book store buying my regular comics. My four-year-old son was, as usual, my travelling companion.

Now, this store is really cool. It's filled with cool toys and games. It's a hard place for a kid to enter, then leave empty-handed. Usually I try to make sure whoever's with me at least gets a comic, or some other little freebie or ultra-low-cost item.

However, after my son had glommed onto a $45 dollar lightsaber, which I told him in no uncertain terms we *weren't* getting (seeing as we have half a dozen lightsabers at home as it is), I said to him, "Let's look around to see if there's something small..." At which point, he tells me, "I KNOW WHAT!!! DARTH MR. POTATO HEAD!!!",and *flies* around the corner to show me, high above his head...

Darth Tater.

I look at it. Man, I remember reading about this toy. Had never actually *seen* one anywhere. Fifteen bucks.

What else could I do? Take a look at this, and tell me if the smile *alone* isn't worth fifteen dollars:

Plus, the toy *is* really cool. ;)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Spreading Myself Around

Yes. I'm spreading myself around.

There is a regular collection of medically-themed blog posts called "Grand Rounds." Medical people submit particular posts from their own blogs, and these posts are collected for others to read.

Based on my supreme medical experience (ie. being married to a nurse), I submitted the post from last week about nurses.

If you are interested in lots of interesting medical posts (oh, and... mine as well), check it out: Grand Rounds at Science & Politics

Oh, and to keep this post at least *slightly* amusing:

If I had gone into medicine, this would probably be me:

Orange You Glad I Didn't Say Banana?

Apparently I'm orange.

According to my wife, who did some kind of a team-building session where you identify people's personality types by colour.

OK. I can live with that. Especially since I don't know what it means. Which makes it much easier to substitute my *own* definition of what an orange personality type must be:

1) Women want to be with me, men want to be like me
2) Babies love me, children flock to me, teenagers think I'm cool
3) Computers respond to my mental commands
4) Uncanny sense of humour
5) Razor-sharp intellect
and of course...
6) Very humble.

That about covers it. Wow. This *was* a useful exercise. I have a much better understanding of myself now!

Saturday, February 04, 2006


Before I begin the main part of today's post, please enjoy another picture of... well... me. (Hey, it's *my* blog, ok?? I love me and this is the best way to prove it to myself!) Here I am with my high school volleyball team, 1982 or 83.

I'm in the back row, third from the left. In case you couldn't pick me out, what with that full head of rich, luxurious hair. (snif)

Ok, now that you're in the volleyball mood, let's proceed:

Played in a volleyball tournament today. Have been doing this more or less monthly since November.

Had a lot of fun. We all clicked well. While we haven't made it to the playoffs in any of the previous tournaments I played, this time we made it all the way to the semi-finals and lost a very close match which would have put us in the finals.

However. One more thing of note.

Let's do a little of what I call "volleyball tournament math."

There were twelve teams. Six players per team. Some might have seven or eight, but let's not quibble.

So how many is that? Six times twelve is... seventy-two.

Seventy-two individual volleyball players.


Of ALL those competitors...

How many do you think got hit in the nads by a volleyball??


Guess who.


One would think so.

Yes, there I was, doing the earthworm crawl on the volleyball court. Using my arms to propel my body since my legs chose not to.

But everybody had a good chuckle. So, at the very least, it's nice to provide a little light entertainment.

Just like this blog. (wink)

Ack! Ack! Do Not Run! We Are Your Friends! Ack! Ack!

Saw "Mars Attacks!" again yesterday. Sharing with my 13-year-old. A couple of years ago he couldn't get into it. This time he could. That's my boy.

It's one of those movies that I love which so many others can't stand. It was just so... quirky. It's an amazing satire on the dangers of political correctness taken to the extreme. And it's hilariously funny and strangely creepy at the same time.

And you can get it in a Wal-mart DVD bin for $7.88!! Criminal.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I Gotta Score Me Some Coke...

Last week, someone recommended that I consider reducing my caffeine intake. OK, well, it was my wife. Duh. My own personal health fairy.

But she does have a point. Between Coke and coffee, my sugar and caffeine intake is pretty substantial.

So I decided to stop drinking Coke. I considered cutting out coffee, but only in the same way I would consider cutting out my liver. Which is, very briefly. And I figure that my children have a lot going for them in life, so it wouldn't suit them to be dead. Which they would be in the mornings if I wasn't drinking coffee. Ummmm... that sweet, sweeeeet, hot coffeeeeeee.......

Where was I?

Oh, right. Coke. So I decided to stop drinking it.

I've done this in the past, but not with a great deal of long term success. I think that's because my health fairy would say things like, "You should be drinking water." And let's just say that water is a substitute for Coke in about the same way that a good firm handshake is a substitute for sex.

So, I tried a 'step-down' program to non-caffeinated beverages. I've dabbled in Sprite and Orange Crush. I've even done the Dew. And they've all helped. A bit.

But today, I'm having trouble.

I want Coke.

Not like, "Gee, it would be nice to have a drink of Coke."


But I'm sure it will pass.

After all, I'm a *pillar* of self-control.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Back to the Drawing Board

OK, the idea for a tattoo I was working on didn't pan out. Remember how I wanted to try a rendition of a favourite comic? Well, no matter how much I played around with it, there was simply no way to get that detail on a tattoo the size I want.

By the way, here's the comic I based the design on. It was a super-size comic from 1975, which actually reprinted classic stories from the 1940's. And it cost a dollar. That was a lot at the time. But boy, did I love that comic. Still do. I'm actually looking at it right now.

So where does that leave me? I'm abandoning the 'comic cover' idea, and am going back to a single image. I have a few pictures saved that I will look more closely at now. I don't want to get stuck here forever.

And I can still always end up with the heart with my wife's name on it...

It's Fresh, Fresh, Exciting... It's So Exciting to Me...

Ok, I'm in full geek mode right now. COMPUTER geek mode, for clarification, since my geekability straddles several levels of geekitude.

My wife noticed that some of the cool blogs out there had a way of classifying their posts by category or topic. She indicated to me that she would like to have something like that on her blog. More specifically, she actually wanted me to figure it out and do it for her. I'm the geek. That's my job.

SO... faced with a new challenge, I dove right in. Today, instead of doing *anything* around the house (with the exception of child maintenance... and I must admit that Dora the Explorer even helped out with that a bit too)... I spent hours researching and rolling out a really cool little blog helper called "FreshTags". It uses an interesting website called which does "social bookmarking."

Anyway, look over on my sidebar! You can click the drop-down menu and see all the different categories I assigned to my posts! Select a topic, and then it lists all the posts associated with it! "Unmentionables" is my favourite.

Isn't that cool?

Isn't it?

Well, *I* think it's cool. Remember, I'm easily amused.

Oh, and I must remember to set it up on my wife's blog now. Since that was the original point. Must not forget. That would be bad. Very bad.