Saturday, September 25, 2010


Ages and ages ago, I lost my spare car key. One day, I'm going to do something random -- move the dryer, unpack a box of Christmas lights, or open a bag of pasta -- and there it will be, inexplicably revealed after years of absence. Until that happens, it's probably smart to have a spare on hand.

To that end, I went and had a new key cut.

And that's where it gets a bit odd.

I tried it in the door of my car and was thrilled when I was greeted with the telltale click, the wee button in the door popping up obediently to tell me that the key was working like a charm.

Getting into the car, I inserted it into the ignition and ... it wouldn't budge. Nope. Not even going to entertain the notion of turning. Nope. Nuttin'.

Apparently the ignition has higher standards than that loose and easy door, that will pop it's lock for any old substandard key.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Pinball Wizard (I Wish)

Alright, I have a confession to make.

I enjoy Wii pinball more than I expected. A while back, I picked up the Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection in a cheap bin but, having loaned the actual Wii to a friend over the summer, hadn't actually played.

Now I have.

And it's enjoyable.

Though not quite like the real deal, they've done a decent job of recreating pinball glory. I rememember playing some of the tables back in the days when you could easily go to an actual arcade and play actual video games and actual pinball because everybody and their dog didn't have a video game console at home. While Wii pinball can't really replace the real thing, it's still giving me cause to waste more time than is advisable, I'm sure. (Of course, that's by my standards, which are bound to be quite different from those of rabid video game players.)

Hooray for fake pinball!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Summer 2010 Reading Spectacular #10

With one final entry, this year's Summer Reading Spectacular comes to a close.

After misplacing Eric Shanower's and Skottie Young's graphic novel adaptation of L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, I found it, picked it back up, and finished it off. The cover rightfully places Baum's name in large letters above Shanower's, as this is definitely a return to the original text both in plot points -- included are brief encounters with Kalidahs, the field mice, Hammerheads, and such -- and in the text itself, much of which is lifted directly from the original novel. Shanower has done a credible job of maintaining his commitment to the original story while keeping the pace going from panel to panel. Skottie Young's illustrations are full of whimsy and the occasional darkness, with hints of anime influence but uniquely his own, with inventive designs of the main characters and the world of Oz. Included at the back is a nice bonus: along with a cover gallery, the creators have included a "sketchbook" which shows some of the variant designs explored on the way to the characters' final looks in the book. The duo has already completed (if memory serves me) their follow-up, a graphic adaptation of The Marvelous Land of Oz.

And so, good readers (both of you), below is a lovely photograph of my summer reading. Though I certainly missed the Hermitage, the reading retreat I've taken for the past few years, I certainly managed to squeeze some reading into the summer. Looking it over, I realize I read fewer young people's books this summer than usual.

I had thought to include a photo for the Summer Screen Review; however, since some were in theatres and others belong to friends, it would have been an incomplete image in any case.

Summer 2010 Reading Spectacular #9

With the hours ticking down to the end of another Summer Reading Spectacular, it's time to reflect upon two more reads.

A few days ago I received a smashing surprise in the mail, all the way from BC (that's British Columbia, not through time from the days before Christ): a copy of SAD MAG, issue 4. But wait. This copy of the arts and culture magazine was signed by cover girl Suzy Shameless, roller derby chick extraordinaire! Woohoo! (And the contents of the magazine were enjoyable, too; in particular the cover story about the culture of the roller derby community in the area was a good read.)

Today I finished up Catching Fire, Book Two in the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. The series has been a bestseller among the young adult audience, but a lot of adults I know have also been reading and recommending it. Part Running Man, part Survivor, part The Lottery, the basic premise isn't all-new, but it's handled quite well and puts a decent original spin on it that makes it new enough for a new audience. Though the romantic triangle elements of the story have gotten a bit weary over the course of two books, this volume continues to move along at a nice pace and sets up nicely the final book in the trilogy which will find its way into my "Currently Reading" pile sometime in the next twelve months, I'm sure. Certainly a series worth checking out if you're a reader of young people's literature or just enjoy a little SciFi adventure story now and then.

Friday, September 03, 2010

The 2010 Summer Screen Review (Part IV)

Watching the first season of One Day at a Time was a great trip down Memory Lane (which corners on Nostalgia Boulevard, and runs parallel to Man-Do-I-Feel-Old Avenue). I wonder how many of these classic sitcoms which have been released, as of late, in Season One sets will see their subsequent seasons released? Probably not as many as I'd like. I was struck by a few things while viewing this enjoyable program:

1. Even after all of these years, I can sing along with the theme song.
2. The opening titles are curiously more blurry than any of the episodes themselves.
3. There was a lot of yelling between mother and daughter and between sisters, making this probably one of the more realistic portrayals of family life on television at the time.
4. I still find it odd that there's a window beside the front door in an apartment.
5. It really was "pushing the envelope" for its time by addressing divorce, teen drinking and sex, and moustaches.
6. If only we could learn from sitcom families that we don't have to sit around watching television all the time. TVs only appear on TVs when they're necessary to the plot.

It was also nice to see, through a little Reunion special feature, that they really had a family-like affection for one another during the show's run, even when Mackenzie was struggling with addictions. (And they spoke openly about those times, too.)

Summer 2010 Reading Spectacular #8

As I cling mercilessly to the final days of summer, I wrapped up another book mostly whilst sitting on my porch, pretending that work was not to be done.

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey is the follow up to The Mysterious Benedict Society (convenient, isn't it?) and has since been followed up with a third in the series (The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma, for those who like to be informed). The story reunites the young heroes from the original adventure and, naturally, throws them into another adventure which makes use of their considerable and varied skills. While the "set-up" of this plot had me a bit concerned (Mr Benedict, their benefactor and leader, has been captured by his brother and arch nemesis while setting up an elaborate follow-the-clues hunt for his young friends and so they must start out following his clues until they figure out what has happened to him), once things got rolling, all was forgiven. It's a nice, silly little romp that Trenton Lee Stewart has created to follow up on his first Benedict hit.