A quarter century of awesomeness

I didn’t know it at the time, but August 31 would become a pretty big day for me throughout the years. Two years ago today, I met the adorable puppy next door for the first time, and Jackie has been a fixture over here since.

Six years ago, Becky and I picked up the keys to our townhouse and kicked off a mostly amazing four years as residents of Oakville. However, it was another August 31, also in Oakville, that is the main topic of this entry.

August 31, 1992 was a Monday, and the weather was picture perfect. It was a glorious day to set out on a new adventure…college! *raises beer* My plan after high school was to take a year off and work, and I did…but I worked a little too long and ended up missing the application deadline to school by a wee bit (okay, five months is more than a wee bit…allow me some creative license!)

I had zero idea what I wanted to do after high school. Back then, the idea of teaching was incredibly appealing, but thanks to biased teachers (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) I ended up with marks that weren’t quite conducive to shaping young minds. I think I’d have rocked as a teacher, but that’s besides the point. With no ideas in my noggin, I made a trip back to my high school and met with my old guidance counselor Mr. Dixon. He handed me a few course catalogs and sent me on my merry way.

Thumbing through these near phonebook-sized publications (it was 1992, well before there was an online to find everything on) I landed on Journalism. Hmmm. I was immediately intrigued. As you know, I might be a bit of a sports nut, and 20 year old Scotty came up with this nugget: I could talk about sports and get paid for it…done! With my future path picked, I just had to find a school who’d accept me.

I applied to Sheridan, Mohawk and Humber. I attended an open house at each of the first two listed and loved what I saw and heard. I was accepted to Sheridan before Humber had even deigned me worthy of being waitlisted. Jerks.

Fast forward to August 31, the first day of school, 25 years ago today. I admittedly was rather nervous…I was going back to school after two years away and my last appearance in a classroom wasn’t one I like to think about (stupidly failing a class in summer school that I had to drive to Brampton for). I also had to overcome the mental block of being called a terrible writer by my Grade 13 Creative Writing teacher, Miss Bilecki. If you’re scoring at home, she’s the one Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn told to get bent (but more colourfully) on my behalf a few years ago.

Anyway, back to the August 31 in question. I really shouldn’t have worried, because once I walked into that first class, I knew I was home. It took about eight seconds to figure out who was awesome, and I’m fortunate beyond words to call most of those people friends to this day.

Oh, the times we had. Ren and Stimpy at lunch. Air hockey tournaments that we couldn’t organize properly to save our lives. Watching Jo stealing wine and dancing to Rage Against The Machine. Baseball drafts in the middle of class. Actually learning how the journalism business worked.

*takes deep breath* To Dave, Gerry, Craig, Michelle, Wayner, Stevie, Tom, Tryg, both he Karens, Judy, Matt, Lisa, John, Danielle, Sonya, Dave in Direct Entry and Tim, Vicki and Janine, who weren’t classmates but played a big part, and everyone else who made those two years two of the very best of my life, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have no idea what my life would look like without you all in it, and I’m damned glad I won’t have to find out.

It’s been a hell of a 25 years, and I couldn’t have done it without you all.


You never forget your first

Ah, Facebook. Your On This Day feature has been amazing to me the past week and a half. Nine days ago, I was reminded that it had been 10 years since I saw The Police perform live at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Today, a huge smile crept onto my face as I recalled the incredible show put on by Muse a decade ago. I had forgotten that I saw Muse on August 1, but there was no way I could forget the other show I saw on this date.

After all, they say you never forget your first.

Thirty years ago today, on a picture-perfect Saturday night in 1987, I saw my first live concert. The band I saw that amazing night was The Cure, who were touring their brilliant Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me album. The best part of the night might just have been the fact that I was able to go at all. At the time, there was a huge furor over one of the band’s songs, Killing An Arab. News outlets reported on the potential of protesters at the show, which scared the hell out of my Mom. I was able to allay her fears and she cleared me to go. Awesome. Now I just had to find someone to go with.

The two friends I had bought tickets for bailed on me…the jerks…so I ended up asking a neighbour if he wanted to take one of the tickets off my hands. He agreed, and his Dad drove us down to the Canadian National Exhibition grounds. We headed inside and took our seats, which we scarcely used for the duration of the show.

There was no opening act. Instead, we were treated to Robert Smith and the lads performing 25 incredible songs during a set that felt like it lasted a week…in a good way. Not surprising, much of the setlist was comprised of tunes from the new album, but they did sprinkle in enough old stuff for the die-hard fans (I had every release on album or cassette and was well versed in their catalogue, and it was fantastic to hear some of the less well-known tracks).

My love of live music started that night, a love that continues to this day…and fittingly, it all started with a kiss, or The Kiss in this case, the song they kicked off the night with.

It’s About Time

When I found out that my wife’s daughter was going to have a little girl a little over six years ago, I wanted to make sure that, as the cool grampa, that I introduced her to nerdy things from the very beginning. The first toy I bought her was a stuffed Wonder Woman doll, which she still plays with to this day.

I felt it was important for me to introduce her to Wonder Woman at an early age. Not only is she a favourite of mine (thank you, Lynda Carter!) but I wanted her to know that there were more heroes out that than just Batman, Superman and Spider-Man. There’s nothing wrong any of those fine characters I just listed, but I wanted her to be able to have a hero she could relate to, someone who was just like her.

Star Wars has an incredible female lead these days. The Ghostbusters are women. Everywhere we look, women are kicking ass in nerd culture, and another giant step was taken yesterday with the announcement that the new Doctor is a woman.

After five plus decades, the lead character in the iconic TV series Doctor Who will be portrayed by a woman. The actress in question is Jodie Whittaker, best known as the grieving mother on the series Broadchurch (starring the 10th Doctor, David Tennant).

Naturally, people took to social media to bitch about it, because what the hell else is new? Some said they’d never watch the show again, while others told the BBC to watch their watch their ratings disappear. Some women weren’t on board with the gender switch, either. One called the move an exercise in pleasing the PC brigade, while another declared the producers have brought an abrupt to her Doctor Who history and memories.

Who knew the producers of a fictional TV series had the ability to wipe minds. Maybe we could borrow them, hop in the TARDIS and head back to November 8, 2016 and see what happens then.

The Doctor isn’t a man? Wahhhh! He’s been a man for over 50 years. If the idea of a female Doctor offends you THAT much, don’t watch. I, for one, am happy to give Jodie a chance. Why? Because I’m a fan of the show and have been for over 40 years. Also, I’m not a misogynist idiot who gets scared by the idea of a time-traveling fictional character in a big blue phonebox  without a penis.

Tom Baker was my first Doctor, and always will be. I loved the Tennant era, and I’m a big fan of Peter Capaldi as well. They’re all good to great in their own way, and I’m sure Jodie is going to be just fine.

I cannot wait until my amazing little granddaughter and I take our first trip on the TARDIS together when she’s a little older. You be assured that when we do, Jodie will be at the controls.

Thirty (and a few) Day Movie Challenge: All the rest of the days

And by tomorrow, I mean a few weeks later…oops!

I’m going to compile the rest of them into one piece, because I got distrac…SQUIRREL! Sorry. Anyway, here’s the rest of the list.

Day 16 – Last movie I saw in the theatre
A couple of weeks ago, we finally got out to see Wonder Woman, and holy hell it was worth the wait. I wrote a piece about Gal Gadot for NerdSpan a couple of years ago and back then I felt she was going to be a fine Wonder Woman.

I was wrong. She was PERFECT. First, let me get the obvious part out of the way: the woman is devastatingly beautiful, and a natural to follow the Wonder Woman I grew up with, Lynda Carter. Even better, she can flat out act. The story was great, the rest of the cast was great and I can’t wait to see it again.

Day 17 – Best movie I saw in the last year
That honour goes to Rogue One. For my money, it’s right behind Empire Strikes Back in terms of Star Wars movies…it’s THAT good.

Day 18 – Movie that disappointed me the most
That “honour” goes to James Cameron’s Avatar. Sure, it’s one of the most visually spectacular movies I’ve ever seen. However, it appears Cameron and company spent all their money on visuals and nothing on the script and talent. Sam Worthington is awful at the best of times (minus The Debt, which he was bearable in), but give him a crummy script and he’s as wooden as my deck. In my review for the paper years ago, I said I was glad I didn’t see it in 3D, because I would have been annoyed in another dimension.

Day 19 – Favourite actor
I’m going to cop out here and name two talented thespians. The first is Leo DiCaprio: from the early days of The Basketball Diaries and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape to Titanic and Django Unchained to his Oscar-winning turn in The Revenant, he’s been amazing in them all.

The other actor in the list is Harrison Ford. The man behind the holdout blaster and the bullwhip, Ford has been a favourite since my earliest movie going days. I’ll address the guy with the blaster in a bit.

Day 20 – Favourite actress
If you know me, you know this one…the incomparable Jessica Chastain. I’ve been a fan since the first time I laid eyes on her in The Help, and have loved everything I’ve seen her in from that point. She got married on my birthday, which was kinda cool too. Jess has a three-legged pup named Chaplin, which makes her even cooler!

Day 21 – Most overrated  movie
This one might piss some people off. I’ve only seen this movie once, and that was one time too many…and that movie is It’s A Wonderful Life. Ugh, what complete and utter dreck. My absolute favourite part of the movie was when it ended. Blech.

Day 22 – Most underrated movie
I was originally going to pick True Romance for this category, but I had a last minute change of heart and opted for The Kingdom instead. Peter Berg’s film about a trio of government agents sent to the Middle East to investigate an embassy bombing gets me every time I watch it. With a cast that boasts Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman among others, it’s a dynamite movie that not enough people have seen.

Day 23 – Favourite character from any movie
Again, a tie. First up is Han Solo. Remember I said I’d talk more about the guy with the blaster later? Here I go. Han Solo was the epitome of badass long before I knew what being badass was (I was 5 when I was introduced to him). Snarky and suave, brave and bold, Han Solo is the very definition of awesomeness.

The other character on this list is Bond…James Bond. Nuff said. Well, except for this: Connery, Craig, Moore, Brosnan, Dalton, Lazenby.

Day 24 – Favourite documentary
This was one of the easiest categories for me. The answer is Hoop Dreams, a look at a pair of Chicago basketball players, William Gates and Arthur Agee and their quest to make it to the NBA. It’s an absolutely heart-wrenching tale, and it’s must see tv if you’re a true basketball fan.

Day 25 – A movie nobody would expect me to like
Becky asked me one night before Christmas several years ago if I would like to watch her favourite Christmas movie with her. I said sure, obviously. The movie in question was Love Actually. I figured a movie with Qui-Gon Jinn, Severus Snape, Rick Grimes, Baron Mordo, Elizabeth Swann and Mr. Bean couldn’t be bad, and I was right. I loved the hell out of this movie, and we make it a part of our Christmas viewing on an annual basis.

Day 26 – A movie that is a guilty pleasure
I had it narrowed down to three: The Replacements, Youngblood and Empire Records. In the end, I went with Empire, and not because it sounds like a movie about Star Wars soundtracks. It’s just a flat-out fun movie that also happens to have a killer soundtrack and Liv Tyler in a kilt…erm, I mean REX MANNING DAY!

Day 27 – My favourite classic movie
The answer to this one is the same as my favourite book…and that’s To Kill a Mockingbird. We watched this spectacular movie in class back in high school. I loved it then and I love it and the book more now. Gregory Peck…what can I say about one of the best acting performances I’ve ever seen? Seriously, go see this already.

Day 28 – The movie with the best soundtrack
As amazing as the soundtracks to Empire Records and Pulp Fiction are, I’m going with the OST for Trainspotting for this spot. Pulp, Blur, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Sleeper, Elastica…top to bottom, an amazing collection of tracks.

Day 29 – A  movie that changed my opinion about something
For years, I thought Sam Worthington was the worst actor I’d seen in recent memory. Then I saw Suicide Squad and saw Jai Courtney attempt to act in the role of Captain Boomerang. Sweet mother of crap he’s horrible. Hollywood, please stop trying to make him a thing.

Day 30 – My least favourite movie
This one’s easy. I like Shawshank as much as I dislike the film that won Best Picture instead, and that movie is Forrest Gump. Holy shit, what a terrible movie. This dreck actually made me stop watching Tom Hanks movies for a few years. I think of how horrible a human being Jenny was, I think how just flat out irritating Forrest himself was and I think about what a waste of Gary Sinise that film was and I get super-annoyed.

A friend told me he went to see it with a good friend of his, and when the film ended, people stood up and cheered…they looked at each other in disbelief. They, like me, thought it was horrible.

So there we have it…my slightly late Thirty Day Movie Challenge. Thanks for reading!

Thirty Day Movie Challenge: Days 10-15

I’m baaaaack!

I went a little off the rails with this last week, with my birthday and a trip to visit my amazing brother- and sister-in-law and then Wonder Woman and Game Five of the NBA Finals (yay for BronBron losing!) but I’m ready to go again.

In the interest of succinctness I’m going to combine the missing entries into one, that being this one. Enjoy!

Day 10’s entry was supposed to be my favourite director. I went back and forth and back again with this one, narrowing it down to three: Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. I ended up going with the man who turned cursing into an art form and whose propensity for violence has made for some of the most entertaining films of the past two decades…and that man is Quentin Tarantino.

From the first time I saw Reservoir Dogs, I knew this kid was going to be huge…and I was write. His resume is beyond impressive: Pulp Fiction, the Kill Bills, The Hateful Eight and one of my favourite movies ever, Inglorious Basterds.

Day 11 was my favourite movie from my childhood. The answer is Star Wars. Nuff said.

On Day 12, I was asked to divulge my favourite animated movie. If you know me, you know this answer. If you don’t, sit back and let me regale you with a tale…a tale as old as time. Yes, my favourite animated film is Beauty and the Beast. I absolutely positively LOVE this movie. I love me some Belle too. I love that she’s a reader, that she’s not a spoiled princess, that she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty. Yes, I know I’m talking about her like she’s real…stop looking at me like that.

For Day 13, I was asked to reveal a movie that I used to love but now I hate. It took me a long time to come up with one, and I ended up coming up with Spider-Man 2. I like Alfred Molina in almost everything, but man he was sooooooo badly miscast as Doctor Octopus. Pair that with the horrific Tobey Maguire performance as Peter Parker and you have a movie that flat out blows with the benefit of hindsight.

On Day 14, the task seemed simple: reveal your favourite movie quote. Oh man, this is hard. The easy answer would be “May The Force be with you” or “We’re going to need a bigger boat” or “Well let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks just yet.” Instead, I’m going with a line from The Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” I love that line, I love that movie and it’s a natural that I pick a line from that film.

The final question that needs answered as I play catch-up is what was the first movie I saw in a theatre? The answer to that one is a cartoon that was released in 1967, but one I saw several years later (on account of not being born in 1967). The film in question is The Jungle Book.

Yes, the first time I went to the movies was to see Baloo, Mowgli, King Louie and Shere Khan and the rest of the crew. I remember it was fun as hell, especially when Baloo was bopping along singing The Bare Necessities. Good times.

Tomorrow, as I’m back on track (fingers crossed I stay there), we’ll look at the last movie I saw at the theatre. See you then!


Thirty Day Movie Challenge: Day Nine

Hey hey!

We’re going to look at a movie today that I know pretty much word for word. For whatever reason, I’ve opted not to include Star Wars for consideration in the category, because I obviously know that one almost by heart.

The movie in question today is Pulp Fiction.

It certainly helps that this movie is incredibly quotable, and that many of those quotes appear on the film’s soundtrack. I was so taken with this movie back in the day that I bought the script. I read that tome dozens of times, and when I’d watch the film I was chattering right along with it…much to the chagrin of anyone I was watching with.

I thought hard about a quote or two to post here, but the problem is, most of the quotes aren’t safe for work. Here’s one of my favourite clean exchanges:

Fabienne: Whose motorcycle is this?

Butch: It’s a chopper, baby.

Fabienne: Whose chopper is this?

Butch: It’s Zed’s.

Fabienne: Who’s Zed?

Butch: Zed’s dead, baby. Zed’s dead.

Tomorrow, my favourite director. Until then!

Thirty Day Movie Challenge: Day Eight

Welcome back! We’re a week in and I think it’s going well…hope you’re enjoying!

Today’s entry in the Thirty Day Movie Challenge is the flip side of yesterday’s, which was a movie that makes me happy. Now we’re going to examine a movie that makes me sad.

So what exactly makes me sad? Well, there’s the scene in Toy Story 3 when the toys are heading down a chute towards an incinerator. There’s Philadelphia, particularly the scene where Tom Hanks is listening to Maria Callas sing opera. There’s the scene at the end of Titanic, where Jack…you know (Dammit Rose, there was PLENTY of room for both of you!) And then, most recently, there’s Rogue One…if you’ve seen it, you know why.

The winner, if that’s the right word for it, goes to another movie, the second Best Picture winner on this list.

That film is Million Dollar Baby.

I’ll admit, when I first sat down to watch this movie, I was skeptical about it. A female Rocky? Ehhhh. I’ve seldom been happier to be proved wrong about something in my life. Sure, the movie is about a plucky young female boxer, played by Best Actress winner Hilary Swank, but the movie is about much more than that. So. Much. More.

I never saw the end coming, and I will freely admit that I lost my shit when it happened. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m getting at. If you haven’t, go see it and brace yourselves.

When looking up things about this incredible movie, I found a quote from Andrew Sarris of the New York Observer that I can agree with almost wholeheartedly: “no movie in my memory has depressed me more than Million Dollar Baby.”

Tomorrow, we take a look at the next movie on the list: a movie of which I practically know the entire script. Spoiler warning: it’s NOT a Star Wars movie.