BOO! Humbug.

Well time to add one more to the list. Along with staying up late and loud bar bands I must now add Halloween to the list of things that no longer hold any charm for me.

I guess that I used to enjoy dressing up, shelling out and such but it was a long time ago. As a teenager, it was the excuse to inhabit another persona for a brief period was very exhilarating and freeing. Though even then there was always the caveat – I still wanted to be comfortable. And look pretty. Nobody takes home the girl dressed as a plague victim. (Though that one is easy to pull off this time of year – it is cold and flu season)

Later on, dressing my kids was an exercise in compromise. My eldest son decided one year that he wanted to be a refrigerator and there was no talking him out of it. Luckily, the large box with the opening door showing cream cheese etc. fulfilled my caveat for them – you need to be able to fit a snowsuit under your costume. I live north of Toronto – we often have some snow around Halloween. Yes you are a princess but you have to be a SNOW princess!

Now, I lock up my black cat in the barn, turn off all the lights and block the long driveway to stop the kids from even coming to knock. I don’t buy candy, or hang ghosts in the trees, or have a pumpkin. Nothing. I don’t like it.

Last night I was downtown for dinner and the theatre. When we left the show it was just about 11:00 p.m. and the nightclubs were just getting going. Every club was lined up with kids in costumes, shivering while they waited to get in. There was a great variety in the costumes of course but the vast majority of girls had a similar theme. Here’s my ass.

It mattered little if they were dressed as a French maid, a sexy witch or Mrs. Claus. It was only an excuse to wear high heels, stockings and what would be classified as a skirt only at a skating competition. And no coat – not wanting to spoil the effect! Did I mention it was below freezing?

We saw a pair of guys on the street, one in a Mexican wrestler mask, the other wearing boxing gloves. What are the odds that they ended up in some physical altercation before the night was out?

Dressing up has always been an excuse to exercise your inner demons, often against your better judgment. We dodged many happy revelers who darted in front of our car – and this was at start of the evening. Okay, it was the start of the evening for them. I was on my way home to bed.


From a Book to a Movie ( the non-Comic Book Kind)

~Well that should be non Graphic Novel for my nerdy followers. (i.e. my own kids)~

Well the movie wasn’t as good as the book.“. I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that. I would have about $8.35 and I could use it. Of course the movie isn’t as good as the book! If movies were filmed being entirely faithful to the book you would have to give up your day job, or at least your summer vacation, to see any of them. And with our short attention spans we are not likely to invest 27 hours into one. The Help was a big hit this summer, on the heels of being read by half of the book clubs in America. I thought the film did a good job of capturing the gist of the story, and the essence of the characters. That’s all you can ask for.

Occasionally, the movie can actually be better than the book. Some cinematic magic occurs to elevate it above even the author’s best efforts. But they are few and far between.  Usually, you have a picture in your head as you read the book – certainly the main characters but often the setting and overall ‘feel’ of the film.  Sadly, that is not what the director has in mind and the end result often disappoints.My favourite novel of all time, Beach Music by Pat Conroy, would make a remarkable film.  However the story is immense and would need to be a mini-series – and we don’t seem to make those anymore.  I guess the viewing audience today is far too fickle to commit.  Oh for the days of Roots and Lonesome Dove!

Now that CGI and other effects are so effective – and prevalent! –  we can revisit all of the books whose very subject matter made them impossible to film.  That is why there is such a resurgence of comic, wait, Graphic Novels being made into films.  The incredible stories can be brought to life in a much more realistic way.  No longer does superman have to lay across two chairs with a fan blowing his cape to simulate flying.

The next big movie coming our way is the novel Cloud Atlas. (insert gasp and/or shudder here). One of the most complicated stories ever, Cloud Atlas is a brilliant novel that involves six inter-related stories.  These stories are all dramatically different, and cross from the mid-19th Century through to a post-apocalyptic future, passing through Korea, Belgium, New Zealand and South Florida. Promotional materials for the film state it features an ‘international’ cast – but the top billed in Tom Hanks. Hmm. On the upside, it is being made by the Wachowski’s – who used to be the Wachowski Brothers when they made the Matrix movies. Now Laurence Wachowski has left his wife for a dominatrix, and become Lana. I guess if anyone can handle the mind-bending story of Cloud Atlas it’s these two.

Well….there’s your problem.

My parents were real city people. Total urbanites. They barely kept houseplants, much less a furry pet. They loved living in an apartment, and could only sleep with the sound of traffic to lull them.

How how I sprang from that concrete-centric set of loins I will never know. I must be a throwback to generations past – either my gentle German ancestors or my soft Scot.

From the time I was able to express an opinion, (pretty damn early I am told), there was nothing I wanted more than to be surrounded by animals. At four I had a ‘Little Golden Book’ – remember them? – about National Velvet that was my favorite. There was one memorable illustration of Velvet patting her horse over the fence, in her own front yard!

That was the epitome to me – having horses that you could see when you looked out your kitchen window. And of course, the numerous large dogs that went along with it, and the cats and constant kittens in the barn.

Now I have that, and I do love it. (Though, come February, shoveling the frozen horse crap does lose some of its charm) But riding on days like these, no bugs, dry ground, breathtaking leaves, is sheer joy.

There are, however, the downsides to farm critters once you get inside the house. A most persistent mouse kept appearing just out of the corner of my eye last week and was able to avoid all my efforts to catch him – but only for a while. I am nothing if not persistent.

The best was the furnace man that came this week to repair my furnace. It would turn on, but would not ignite. Once you opened the window to look inside it would fire up just fine but it was apparently not getting enough oxygen to keep running.

I called ‘the guy’ and it took him only a matter of minutes to determine what was going on. Reaching up into the air intake hose he brought out a desiccated and overdone squirrel, which had probably been in there for months. “Well”, he said, with no hint of humor, “there’s your problem.”

PVR in HD – OMG!

Admittedly, I was a bit late on the bell curve in coming to PVR. There was something about it that gave me the same feeling as missing out on actually being at the party. Especially for something important, I wanted to see it as it occurred – viewing it after didn’t have the same effect.

Two other elements came into play as well. First, I had spent years in advertising and it seemed like cheating to avoid watching all those commercials that hundreds of people in painfully precious offices and oh so cool studios had worked on for so long and at such great expense.

The second problem was one of technical difficulty. Mine. While certainly no Luddite, my use of modern electrical equipment – computer, telephone, satellite – were all based on the ‘just keep pushing buttons ‘til it works’ theorem. I have absolutely no understanding of how anything works. (I am, however, excellent at calling the guy to come and install and/or fix and/or replace it.)

But eventually I warmed to the PVR. When the only two shows that I wanted to watch in an evening happened to come on at exactly the same time, I no longer had to stay up for three hours to watch the West Coast feed. Now I could record one and watch the other. I was a neophyte of course. Nobody watches live television anymore.

Today, when I decide to watch a show I come in at least 15-20 minutes after it has started. That way, I can breeze through the average 60-minute show in about 42 minutes. For certain shows, like Jeopardy, the time difference is even greater. Jeopardy, even with numerous family members buzzing in, takes less than 18 minutes. (Full disclosure – I skip the humorous anecdotes from the players).

Now I am every marketer’s nightmare. I skip through 95% of the ads. What do I stop for? Apple. The E*Trade baby. Anything with Zombies.

Last week, my PVR started to have issues. It would freeze completely and nothing short of a full power down/reload could make it operational again. It was done. So, I called the guy.

The guy came and replaced it with a brand spanking new unit. Only after he had installed it did I realize that I had now lost the 37 hours of television that I had stored on my old unit. Good lord! The entire season of Breaking Bad. The Finals from Wimbledon. That movie about the guy, going to the place, with the thing…. All gone!

If I had had my wits about me I would have spent the four nights previous staying up all night, watching everything I had hoarded on my unit before he took it away.

Now I have to start again. If you have watched any of the new fall shows and really, really liked one – don’t tell me. I’ll never catch up.