Thursday, June 30, 2011

P.E.I.: Day Nine

So above is the photo of the Summer House where we're currently staying, associated with Blue Crest Cottages.  The owner, Thelma, was awesome and gave it to us at the same price as the cottage as it wasn't booked and she thought it would be a better place for a family with a  small guy.  Can't argue that - the extra room is amazing.  It's easily as large as our place in Toronto (minus a basement), and it's kind of cool to have a yard where Ephraim can run around in.

Today was nice and tame, a nice way to celebrate mine and Emily's fourth anniversary as a married couple.  We had planned for rain, but the forecast changed (it does that here…) and apparently we're in for nothing but lovely weather for the next few days!  Huzzah!!!  So our back-up rain plan is put on hold until further notice.  We decided to spend the day in Charlottetown and poke around, so we took our sweet-ass time getting ready and headed out.  We got lunch at what is probably the only Thai place in Ch'town, possible the entire island.  Very different style from any I've had, but it was tasty - Ephraim sucked it up with glee as well.  After that I wanted to check out a comic book store, The Comic Hunter.  I've only been reading comics for the last few years, and it was when we were in P.E.I. last that I stopped into this store and bought a copy of Watchmen, and with it came an insert advertising other titles, Fables, Y: The Last Man, etc…. and the rest is history.  So I owe this store a great deal of gratitude for throwing me into an amazing storytelling medium.

While on Queen Street we hit Cows to try to knock off a few more flavours.  I don't think we're going to bother trying to do the whole list.  In fact, I think I've had my fill of Cows ice cream.  Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with it, but I'm kind of over it.  The ice cream itself is tasty, as it should be when it's got a ridiculously high butterfat percentage.  But my main issue is that the flavours are kind of lazy.  Of their 34 flavours I'd say that at least 80-90% of them are simply the vanilla base with a variation of the same dozen or so ingredients thrown in.  I like flavoured ice cream, not sugary inserts.  When we were at Shipwrights they served us ice cream from the local dairy ADL, and it was damn tasty stuff, so I think the next time we need a fix, that's where we'll go.  Nothing personal Cows, but that's just the way it is.

We stopped off at a playground and then a farmers market and bought Ephraim's weight in fruit, then returned home for a nice simple supper.  Tomorrow is Canada Day so we're heading back to Ch'town, the birthplace of confederation!  Should be cool.  And also, as you'll note in the photo below, our dear Ephraim has finally made a friend here on The Island...

1586 - Episodes: season one

Holy shit did I love this series, and I'm so damned happy that it's been renewed for a second season.  This is an insider show, and those are tough, but this one is pretty unique.  It's about a British couple with a hit series in the UK, hired to adapt it for American television, and the process involved in doing so, and how their series about a witty headmaster at a boy's school eventually ends up being about a hockey coach starring the guy that played Joey on Friends.  And yes, Matt LeBlanc plays himself, or at least a wonderfully over-the-top-charming-asshole version of himself. 
What makes this show so wonderful is how grounded Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig are against characters like Matt LeBlanc and the wonderfully hilarious Kathleen Rose Perkins (fucking LOVE her in this). 
Because this is a first season I won't give any spoilers, but if you haven't heard of this show do yourself a favour and check it out.  The first season is only seven episodes and there isn't a single one that isn't fantastic.  This season features one of the best man-on-man fights in the history of television and one of the best season ending cliff hangers.  I for one can't wait to see what they do with this show when it returns.
Episodes - Season 1 - 2-DVD Set ( Episodes ) ( Episodes - Season One ) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.2.4 Import - United Kingdom ]

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

P.E.I.: Day Eight

So the plan was to open this entry up with a photo of our new place, the Summer House, and in the foreground be the toy lawnmower that I swiped from the little bastard seven-year old.  But it just didn't happen.  (to be clear, I just didn't get a chance to take the photo today - I swiped that lawnmower like it was nobodies business!)
Today was another day of lovely weather so we headed down to a place called Victoria-By-The Sea, which is a very small town.   It might not even be a town - more a village.  The whole place literally has six streets.  Here is a map below.

It's a mixture of houses and shops (that are also part houses) more or less completely there for tourists - not really functional town type shops.  Oh and (as you can see above and below) a lighthouse!  We had lunch at a great place called The Landmark Cafe and then got some pretty amazing chocolates at Island Chocolates - Emily loved their cinnamon one (had some kick to it) and we're still going through our box.  We assumed that it was a chain, but after a quick google search I believe that there is actually only the one location.  We just may have to make an excuse to get back over that way…. hem….

After that we headed back to our neck of the woods for another lovely beach day. Ephraim loves running in the "rough waves", and silly me decided that we've taken "enough" beach pictures and missed some pretty awesome little moments - my favourite being Ephraim sitting in a large hole in the sand that Emily had dug and declaring it his "beach chair".  Priceless.

The more time I spend on The Island the more I'm fascinated with the idea that this is a REALLY seasonal place.  It could just be that I'm really just seeing the tourist side, but a large chunk of this place shuts down in September and doesn't re-open until about June.  And when the weather turns cold their agriculture and fishing must slow down as well.  I'm very very curious what it's like here during the winter.  Do people just work their ass off in the warmer months and then relax in the colder?  I must find the answers to these questions!  And another piece of useless trivia about P.E.I.  In 1976 they outlawed the use of plastic bottle to help curb littering (which I actually remembered when we were here for our honeymoon back in 2007), but then in 2008 they made them legal again.  This is another thing I'd like to know the reason/answer to.

Okay.  So tomorrow is supposed to rain - but we've got a rain plan!  And it's a fun one!  Stay tuned.  Today was the half-way point of our trip. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

P.E.I.: Day Seven

Today was an interesting day with a bit of a roller coaster of emotions. First off we awoke to a bright sunny day. Finally!!! It's amazing how quickly good weather can turn around your perspective on everything. We'd been told by various sources that today was supposed to be good so we planned to go to a place called Shining Waters, which is a little amusement type park with lots of water stuff, even for little guys like Ephraim. Have to say that I was a little disappointed in that the kiddie area, which is made up of a really large splash pad with a mini slide and other items, as well as two sets of larger slides. I wasn't disappointed by the area itself - it was pretty awesome, but the fact that it was more or less unsupervised. They had one poor employee monitoring the entire area, and all they could really do was to tell kids to slow down. Meanwhile at the top of the slides there were little kids pushing past each other to get to the front of the line. And when you went down the slide they wouldn't wait but five seconds to go down behind you, hitting you in the back. Part of me wants to blame the kids for being rude, but they're kids - they are at a water park and they're excited and impulsive. Part of wants to (and does, if I'm honest) blame the parents for:
A) raising kids who are so selfish and rude
B) not paying attention to them (seriously, there was a two, maybe three, year-old who was strapped in a life jacket and their parent more-or-less just let them run wild. A life preserver is not a substitute for a supervisor or parent).
But I think I have to ultimately blame the facility. The parents don't know their kids are misbehaving (even though they should) and ultimately the place needed another employee there to monitor the tops of the slides.
So other than that we really enjoyed the park - lots of different areas over and above the water park stuff. Ephraim and I even did a Pirate Paddle Boat. You'll see how successful below. After that we headed to Cows for some ice cream (our goal is to go through all of their 34 flavours before we leave (the trick is getting two flavours in one scoop!), then back to the cottage where I witnessed one of the saddest things ever.
The rest of the cottages in our row have started to fill up and when we returned we saw almost a dozen other kids playing at the little park area. Ephraim was so excited to have what he was calling "new friends". So we got him ready to go and I went down to the park with him. When we got there he saw a toy lawnmower and declared, quite loudly, that he wanted to play with it. So just as he was about to grab it, a seven-year old swiped it away, knowing full well that it had been called for, simply responding, "Too bad!" And when I told him that I'd appreciate it if he'd let Ephraim play with it he simply told me that if I didn't leave him alone that he would tell his father that I "touched him". Wow. But that wasn't the worst part, the worst part was that Ephraim stood there, not understanding what had happened. Why this person who he hoped might be his new friend would do this. Sad indeed.
Luckily tomorrow we're being upgraded to the Summer House down the road (went for a tour tonight - it's gorgeous) so we won't have to be near that kid. And the lady that owns the place told us that we could take any toys we wanted to the new place. So first thing tomorrow morning guess what I'm grabbing?

1585 - Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution: season two

This was a very different season from anything Jamie has dealt with so far in terms of trying to make food better for children.  To start off with he couldn't even get into a school cafeteria for almost the entire season.  So instead he has to do other things - which were interesting as well.  Jamie acknowledged that the country is obsessed with fast food and watching him attack that was interesting as well.  If I have any critiques it's that Jamie felt a little... smug this season... and perhaps things felt a little more 'set-up' than usual.  I work in television, and I've done a fair amount of work in reality/docu television and I can smell a set-up a mile away.  It's not to say that things didn't happen, but it's pretty easy to spot that something that happened spontaneously and something that was recreated.  In the grand scheme it doesn't matter, what matters is that Jamie is making a difference.  If you follow the news on this you'll see that even after the filming of the season change s continuing to happen in L.A.  Is it all Jamie?  No.  Of course not.  But he sure didn't hurt.
I was sad to learn that ABC has cancelled this series.  I'd be surprised if someone else didn't pick it up in some capacity.  The show itself is entertaining, but it's also eye-opening and important.  Although I suppose if people just aren't watching then that says something in and of itself.  My ultimate hope would be that Jamie continues the work with or without the cameras.  He reportedly earned $25 million dollars doing this series, so it's not as if he needs the money. 
Watch this series if you can, or anything Jamie is involved with - his message is earnest, honest, and good: eat good food, know what it is, where it comes from, and what it'll do to you.
Jamie's Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals

Monday, June 27, 2011

P.E.I.: Day Six

So first off, today was Emily's birthday! Happy birthday to my lovely wife!!! We started off the day with breakfast at the Charlottetown Cora's. We were planning to spend most of the day in Charlottetown, but the weather sucked, which wasn't doing well for the birthday festivities. We haven't had the best of weather since we've been here - mostly just a lot of cloudiness - luckily not much rain, but no warm sun either. So after a few stops we decided to head back to the cottage for lunch.
Ephraim had another epic (for him) nap, and by the time he got up the sun had finally come out! Huzzah! So we decided to head to the Cavendish beach. I have to say that I think the high point of the day, heat wise, in this province is much later than ours back in Ontario. Here it appears to be around 4pm, home it's closer to 2pm. We still went nowhere near the water, but had a mighty good time building sand castles and digging what Ephraim refers to as "toilet tunnels". After that we went to a restaurant in Margate that we'd heard about, Shipwrights. It's pretty awesome to pull up to a place and see a large vegetable garden on one side and a pen full of chickens, ducks, and rabbits on the other side. In a time where sometimes it's hard to know where your food comes from, there was no guessing here. Everything was pretty much made on sight. Emily was a little let down by her meal - she ordered the Vegetarian Lasagna, which advertised garden vegetables, but was mostly just soy-ground-round, I however had what was probably one of the top five meals of my life - a Pesto Scallop Pasta - homemade pesto and amazing homemade pasta - I'm not a big scallop fan, but damn if they didn't taste great.
So after that headed home for a much needed rest and shower (wrestling on the beach with Ephraim got sand e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. And now, as I write the, the rain is pounding down. Go ahead rain! Give it your best. Get it out of your system. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be lovely. We'll take it!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

P.E.I.: Day Five

There they are - the P.E.I. chocolate covered potato chips!  Apparently so popular that an extra facility was needed just to keep up with the demand.  How were they?  Well, they're the kind of thing that you only need a few of, that's for sure.  The chocolate is pretty rich, the chips pretty greasy, so put together it's not the kind of thing you want to make part of your every day snacking, but it's a unique little treat.

So today was pretty uneventful, in a good way.  We went to a open tank fish museum in Stanley Bridge this morning, and I'll be the first to admit, I assumed it was going to be a little lame, especially based on the outside.  I take it back, it was really cool.  First off they have some of the funkiest fish I've ever seen, and what's even cooler is that they're all indigenous to the area.  Another room filled with stuffed birds, hundreds and hundreds of all species and types.  If there is a bird missing in that collection I would be absolutely amazed - it was pretty damn impressive.  The touch tank aspect was a little underwhelming, consisting mostly of starfish and clams.  Older kids would probably get a lot more out of it as there was a LOT of information.  For example, did you know that oysters change sex several times through-out their lives, and that they mate with one another by essentially spitting at each other and their sperm and eggs meet and mix in the middle.  No touching whatsoever.  And Walrus' were indigenous (word of the day!) to P.E.I. until the poachers made them extinct here.  Sucks, right?

The plan was to hit a kids music concert featuring Mike Pendergast (a P.E.I. musician superstar - seriously you can't go anywhere in this province musically without his name coming up.  He's everywhere (that's a good thing!).  But Ephraim ended up having an actual decent nap for once and so we missed it.  Instead we wandered over to the Cavindish Beach to collect more shells and whatnot.  The water was nowhere warm enough to go near, and despite the clouds it was nice weather, so we built sand castles, dug ditches and played Ring-Around-The-Rosie in the sand.  Special thanks to the guy who decided to sit a few feet over from us and smoke so that it kept hitting us in the face. 

Then we just headed back home for a nice relaxed evening.  Tomorrow is Emily's birthday so we're looking forward to a fun-filled indulgent day (and hoping that the weather improves!)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

P.E.I.: Day Four

So today was kind of a weird day. First off, I'd like to retract a comment from yesterday's post! It would appear that we had shopped at the ghetto Atlantic Superstore and the one on the other side of Charlottetown had, more or less, everything that we're used to from the grocery story near our house. Huzzah! The Island didn't let us down! I also forgot to mention yesterday an interesting Island treat we discovered, chocolate covered potato chips. Yum yum.

Our first stop today was to head to the Cows Creamery. For those that don't know there is a world-famous ice cream store that originates here named Cows. In addition to their ice cream they are also somewhat famous for their awesome line of parody t-shirts. I'll post a photo of a shirt we bought later on in the week. I have to admit, the Factory Tour at Cows was kind of lame. It's a very small factory and they charge you $6 to look through the glass into a t-shirt shop, then the tiny ice cream kitchen, then the cheese storage, and then a spoonful of ice cream to sample. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes. Granted we were there on a Saturday, so it's probably a little more exciting when the rooms are filled with people working, but I have to say that I'd just rather you spend your money on the actual ice cream or one of their fun shirts. Avoid the tour. Lame-o!

Because our pass was good for two days we headed back to Avonlea Village, where both Anne and Gilbert remembered Ephraim (how awesome is that?). And so we did the tourist thing and took photos of him with them. Also kudos to Gilbert for playing ball with Ephraim for over ten minutes (including hitting him in the head). Can't say enough good about this place. Really solid. Please go - it deserves to be supported.

Also something that I forgot to include yesterday from our Avonlea visit. While in the school house we were given some homework to do. Here are some of the more generic questions, just off the top of your head see how many you can answer. Remember all questions are referencing 1908, not the current date:
Name the current Prime Minister of Canada.
Name the current President of the United States.
Name the current King of England.
Name of our present flag.
Why are cars not permitted on the roads of Prince Edward Island?
What are the two main industries in Prince Edward Island?
And before we left, Ephraim had to say goodbye to his (I think) favourite animal, the Donkey, Eeore.
We then headed back to Summerside as we'd read that there was supposed to be a Kitchen Party at the Legion.  Now, from what I've been told Kitchen Parties are supposed to be traditional music and storytelling, instead we got to the Legion (should have been my first clue) to find a band full of over the hill-wanna-be-rockers, filled with middle-aged and over people drinking beer and hard liquor.  Several minutes into it they somehow realized that we'd brought a two-year old in and kicked us out.  Thank the sweet lord.  That place scared me, but it also scared me to leave quickly and upset people.  So we got to the tourism booth in Summerside and asked what else was going on, especially since Ephraim kept exclaiming "Where music go?".  Do not separate that guy from his music.  He'll cut you.  So they pointed us in the direction of the Highland Games.  I have to say that Emily and I get ourselves into some pretty random situations when we go on trips.  For the most part we plan where where to go and what to do, but we're also big fans of going with the flow and giving into whims.  Let's just say that the only thing that trumps Band-Geek is Highland Band-Geek.  It was fine, but nothing I could see myself returning to by choice.

Oh, and before I forget, here is a personal little letter to the people at TomTom GPS service.
Dear TomTom people, we find your navigation system quite easy to use, however your P.E.I. maps are something to be desired.  On several occasions you have lead us down roads that no longer exist, and fail to acknowledge ones that do.  I spent at least half an hour or more today heading in the wrong direction (on several occasions).  So please, send someone to P.E.I. and update your maps.  There is an entire survey of houses that you do not know exists.  That is all.

So that was our day.  We ended it with going to an AWESOME restaurant in Summerside called Five Eleven West.  Great food, awesome staff.  Would go there again in a heartbeat!  We've had two later nights with Ephraim out about so I think the plan is to stay close to home tomorrow.  Supposed to be nice in the afternoon so we'll see what we get up to!

Friday, June 24, 2011

P.E.I.: Day Three

There is a saying about The Island that if you don't like the weather just wait for half an hour.  It's true.  Thankfully.  I've never been somewhere where if you look at the fourteen day forecast in the morning it looks nothing like the one in the afternoon.  On Wednesday before we left it was calling for blue skies for the majority of our trip and that estimation has changed several times since we've been here - we're hoping it continues to do so as a few rainy days are expected, but honestly, I don't think that there is a hell of a lot to do on The Island in bad weather.  We spent an hour or so searching the internet for options and came up with a few, but not nearly as many as you'd expect - especially in a place where tourism is key, and you'd want the people to have things to do on rainy days.  I'm telling you, anyone wanting to invest in a potential goldmine, build an indoor play centre in P.E.I.  So far so good, but if the weather turns you'll be sure to hear it from me :)
So this morning was cold and cloudy.  We went to a really nice playground in North Rustico while waiting for Avonlea Village to open at 10am.  Seriously, this playground was awesome.  Below here you'll see a photo of an outdoor gym area that's pretty damn neat.  If you look closely there are no weights, but look to the bottom of the machines.  They are each designed so that you pull/push a percentage of your own body weight.  Pretty damn awesome.  If we go back there I'll get a video demonstration for you to marvel/laugh at. 
After the park we headed to Avonlea Village in Cavindish, just down the road from our cottage.  It goes without saying that the Anne Of Green Gables legacy is something that has done awfully well for The Island.  It's pretty amazing how a hundred year old literary character has put a place on the map, an in such a romantic way.  I think it adds a fairytale charm to the The Island that no where else I've ever been to has.  I could go on and on about this and how it fascinates me, but I won't bore you.  Instead, The Village.  In a world: wonderful.  Seriously, especially for families with children.  It's set up in a way that it's almost like an on-going story and live theatre.  Through-out the day the "characters" do little 'moments' from the books, but then in-between then just walk around and mingle in character, and they do a damn fine and funny job of it.  Again, charming.  The place is open from 10am-5pm and I swear that you could spend the entire time there just immersed in the characters walking around.  It could just be that it's early in the season and there were less people there but I'd say that we actually got to know the characters a bit.  Below you'll see a drawing that one did for Ephraim, 'Charlie Sloan' who became Ephraim's friend over the course of our time there.  Top notch stuff.  AND our pass is good for two consecutive days, so we'll probably head back tomorrow afternoon to catch up on anything we missed.
After that we headed to Summerside to catch their Pre-Canada Day Olde-Fashioned Carnival, which was really really awesome.  It was packed as well with locals, and had awesome music playing the whole time (I bought two CDs today, one here, and the other from the band playing at Avonlea - I'll try to give them a little write-up at some point as well).  They had games for the kids - five cents each.  A really nice little way to end the day.  We went to an Italian Restaurant for dinner, but then left quickly when they weren't able to make a sauce that didn't have meat in it.  Which probably just meant that nothing they make there is fresh, so we gladly left and went to Sharkey's Seafood something-or-other which was just fine.  Not a top-notch seafood place, but nothing to complain about.  Emily is vegetarian so she doesn't eat fish (which is difficult in a place like The Island) and Ephraim and I are pescetarian (which essentially just means we're vegetarians who eat seafood - mock us if you will, I could explain the reasoning, but that's an entirely different long winded blog).
So all in all a lovely day and adventure.  More to come tomorrow!!! (oh, and I came up with my P.E.I. film idea... ;-) )

Thursday, June 23, 2011

P.E.I.: Day Two

Today started with us actually sleeping in until 6:30am!  To be clear, that's technically 5:30am our usual time, so technically not sleeping in, but we'll take it!  Ephraim had fallen asleep on the way to our cottage so he was quite delighted to wake up in a completely new place, especially one with a little park just a thirty-second walkaway, and a pool next door.  We wanted to keep today pretty low-key so after breakfast in North Rustico we headed to Charlottetown to get some groceries.  We have some particular food likes and we figured our best bet would be there at the Atlantic Superstore.  Have to say that we were a tad disappointed that we couldn't get a few things there - although we haven't give up hope and we know that we'll find them elsewhere!  P.E.I. don't let me down!
After that we bought some new swimwear and headed back to our cottage for lunch and then went to Backley Beach (the beaches here, which are part of the National Park system, require a pass to get into them - and one is included with our cottage - Huzzah!).  The Beach was beautiful, the sand was nice and warm, and the water was damn damn cold, but as you can see from the photo above Ephraim didn't seem to give a damn, he just wanted to run and hop and play in that frigid water!
So nothing too exciting today.  Tomorrow we're going on a series of adventures, so stay tuned for that!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

P.E.I.: Day One

God damn I love it here.  Currently I'm sitting outside of our cottage, just a kilometre from North Rustico, P.E.I., breathing in the slightly chilled maritime air and it's just absolutely glorious.  The picture above is the view from our cottage.  Just look at the lovely red soil.  Gorgeous.  I keep telling myself that I could live here, but I think what's more true is it's just that this is a part of the world that I want to visit often.  If I'm smart I'll write something to shoot here and give us an excuse to move out here for a few months.  Now that's what I should do! 
Today was a travel day, so not much to report at all.  Charlottetown's airport is one of those lovely little places (although Sudbury still holds the title of smallest airport I've ever flown into).  What tickled me even more was to think that in a weeks time the royals, William and Kate, will be flying into there.  Our flight landed at 6pm P.E.I.-time and we got our car pretty quickly (even though I'd forgotten which company we did the rental car through.)  We stopped at a little place to eat in Charlottetown called Tai Chi Gardens (vegetarian at that!) and then we got to our cottage with no troubles (thanks to our lovely new TomTom GPS) and Ephraim even fell asleep on the way there as an added bonus!
Looking forward to two glorious weeks on The Island, tomorrow will be more or less settling it, going out for breakfast, getting some groceries, etc... but we're going to try and hit a beach as well and start planning where we want to go and when.  Oh, and we'll probably hit Cows Ice Cream, 'cause it's pretty awesome.

The Walking Dead - Vol 14: No Way Out

Waiting on a series like this sucks.  Especially when you get the new book and you whip through it :)  Luckily I picked it up on my way to the airport, so I may even give it another read while I'm off on my trip. 
As it is with most of the series stuff I blog about, if you don't want to know what happens, stop right here.  If you want to know if it's worth reading - yes. 

For the last few volumes Rick and company have found what looks to be the perfect place for them, a gated community with walls up to keep the dead out.  But the last volume ended with a small skirmish involving gunfire, which we all know at this point is like a net for picking up zombies to come your way - and come our way they did!  After a few tamer volumes this one comes back kicking and doesn't take any prisoners.  I truly believe that the only one safe in this world is Rick - and I'm not even sure if I believe that anymore.  What's really lovely about this particular story arc is what happens to Rick emotionally because of it, and how he comes out of it with a new lease on life and their situation.  It's a breath of fresh air and I really can't wait to see what is done with it.  Kirkman once again pulled the wind out of my sails in that massive panel where we see what looks like half of Carl's face blown off.  What surprised me even more is that it might not have killed him.  But in a series where the main character lost a hand about ten volumes ago, it shouldn't be that surprising for another to walk around with part of their head missing.
The love fest for this continues, just hope that it's television counter-part can get itself into shape as well.
The Walking Dead Volume 14: No Way Out TP

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

1584 - The United States of Tara: season three

And so it ends.  Was it really only three seasons?  Feels like it's been a lot more than that.  Alas.  I really really liked the direction of this season, seeing the inside of Tara's mind, her making deal with the alters.  Loved Eddie Izzard's cameo (shame it didn't last the entire season - although it's understandable by, story wise).
This season saw both the kids have to face real life and deal with it.  It saw Tara's sister finally get over herself and see the amazing man that was standing right in front of her.  It also saw Max finally lose his shit and say what's on his mind (the entire building/sequence of which was masterful), but most importantly it saw Tara confronting her alters and the first step of getting her shit together.  I think this show finally found it's legs, and ironically just as they decided to cancel it.  I think getting a glimpse into Tara's mind is a great thing to play with (except for that over the top finale with the water-boarding and being saved by Max entering (eyes rolled a bit there).
I'm disappointed that this show will not continue.  I was looking forward to writing a spec of this series, but it's pointless now.  Although intended to be a season finale, I think that this worked out just as well to have it as the series.  Everyone here felt a little older and wiser, like it mattered that they'd been here and done these things.  For fun I think I'll revisit some season one stuff to just see how far everything has evolved.  
If you've never seen this show you owe it to yourself to check out the first batch of episodes, only a dozen episodes a season - not too hard to catch up.  And remember, it's never too late to discover an amazing new series.
***The other thing that I wanted to add, having thought about it, is that what I really loved about this season was the new alter Bryce, but more so just what it did to the dynamic of ALL the characters.  I loved that, for the first time, we felt genuinely concerned and worried about her and all the other characters.  Good stuff, indeed! 
United States of Tara: Third Season

1583 - Nurse Jackie: season three

So, being that this is the third season of this series I think it's safe to say that this blog will include some spoilers.  In fact I'll declare it up front - if you haven't watched the season finale of this season and don't want to ruin anything - stop reading..... now.

Okay.  Back to business.  I absolutely loved the first season of this show, the second as well.  I don't know what the hell happened to me while watching the third season but all of a sudden I realized "This is a group of horrible people.  I don't enjoy spending time with them" with the exception of Zoey (LOVE Zoey) and Dr. O'Hara.  The biggest problem is that Jackie is given almost absolutely zero consequences for her actions.  They dangled the carrot over us in this finale but then, FOR NO FUCKING REASON, her drug filled urine is thrown out.  WTF.  Talk about taking the wind out of the sails.  And yes, you can argue that Jackie's marriage breaking down is a something, but it's not a consequence.  When Kevin announces that he's cheated (nice touch) Jackie could have easily cleaned the slate and let it all out - instead she got what she wanted:  freedom.
I'm curious what will happen with the next season and so I'll tune in.  Clearly they've only hit the tip of the iceberg with Kelly and, although I hate the character, I'm curious what's next for Coop now that he's been embarrassed in such a major way.
So if anyone from Showtime is watching - take a cue from some other great series out there - fuck some shit up some more and make your characters accountable for their actions.  Your audience deserves it.
Nurse Jackie: Season Three

Monday, June 20, 2011

1582 - Bob & Carole & Ted & Alice

Another big thanks to Netflix to exposing me to a film that I don't think I'd ever heard of, nor likely ever would.  This film is about a married couple who goes to a retreat therapy and comes back with a whole new outlook on life and sexuality, which at first repels their best friends, but then opens up the jar of worms.  And once the idea of them all sleeping together is breached, can they ever be the same again?
It's funny how these films back in the day took their time with their premises.  I dare say that a remake of this would probably chew through this material and need more (exploring more of the after math, I believe).  Elliot Gould is really fantastic here - the whole cast is! (Natalie Wood is smoking hot here.  My word.)  Unfolding almost like a play with lots of scenes that go on much longer that today's counterparts would, it's almost too bad as that's where the real heart of it went.  Where ideas were question and pontificated over. 
More of a sex-drama than a comedy, although I'm certain that someone more familiar with the era would probably get a lot more humour out of it than I do.  This is a little gem that's worth checking out if you like relationship dramas (and happen to have a netflix account).  Warning: to avoid having an awkward conversation afterwards do no watch this with a new (or even broken in) significant other.  But if you're the type that likes to hash it out and have crazy honest conversations, all the power to you!
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice  Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice  Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice [VHS]

Sunday, June 19, 2011

1581 - Midnight in Paris

Those who know my filmic tastes know that I'm a lover of Woody Allen.  I'll be the first to admit that he's made several films which I'll probably never both seeing more than once, but he's also made more than a dozen films which I regularly revisit.  For my money I'm not sure that there are that many filmmakers that can boast such a feat.
Woody's newest film is about a man living in the past, who on a trip to Paris in present day finds himself wishing that he was there in the 1920's, and then magically, each night, he finds himself getting there via a mysterious stage coach.  So, in theory, it's a time travel film, but it's done so with such simplicity. 
I fell in love with Wilson's character immediately.  Charming, clever, taking the stock Woody character and making it his own in wonderful ways.  Even just his mannerisms elicited sympathy from me.  I think one complaint I had here was that McAdams (whom I adore, and looked gorgeous here) was unlikable from the get-go, and it was a little too easy.  Of course I'm not going to root for him and her to stay together, I'm never given any reason to.  That aside this film is just jam-packed with fantastic actors (particularly enjoyed Alison Pill as Zelda Fitzgerald).  I admit that part way into it I was worried that this film was going to amount to nothing more than a clever wink at a bygone era, but Woody has created a rich film that's ultimately about being happy in the here and now.
It's nice to see the love that Woody is getting for this film and I hope he's able to keep making the kinds of films he wants to make for as long as he can and wants to.
An absolutely must-see for any Woody Allen fan or mild appreciator. 

The Seventh: a Parker novel

It will please some of you to know that I finally got off my butt and got a library card.  There is a great library down the street from our place, and my son loves going there (plus I realized that they more or less have everything I want to read and so therefore, why spend the money on buying the book?)  They've also got a large graphic novel selection.  Huzzah! 
So I'm just steeped into these Parker books, they're all pretty tight as well and could probably be read in a single sitting if you've got a few hours on your hands.
This one brings Parker into a heist at a football stadium with six other guys, but after the heist goes smooth as silk the money is stolen.  Is it an inside job from one of the seven guys, or someone else entirely?  With Parker at the helm the criminals are forced to play detectives in an effort to get their seventh of the score back, all the while avoiding the cops for the robbery they committed.
Stark uses a consistent structure in his books that's a lot of fun.  He shifts the point of view of the narrative and it works well here.  I highly recommend this to anyone who digs some solid crime fiction.  Can't wait till the next is available at the library :)
The Seventh: A Parker Novel  The Seventh: A Parker Novel

Saturday, June 18, 2011

1580 - Going the Distance

I'm a big fan of a lot of the people in this film - Justin Long, Drew Barrymore, Charlie Day, the list goes on.  This is kind of your typical rom-com about a couple trying to stay together against adversity (this case being a long distance relationship) however it's... I don't know, it's kind of weird.  The tone is a little inconsistent, the film started off on a far more blunt and blatant sexual tone than I had expected (surprisingly enjoyed) but then that just kind of fades away and it floats more into typical rom-com tone - which was a shame.  I found that it foundered a little bit and created obstacles that didn't fit or exist (there's this little sequence involving Long's character concerned about needing to get a tan to look good for his girlfriend, where we've never set up for a moment that she would want such a thing).  I didn't hate the sequence, some funny comes out of it, but I just wanted more things connected more honestly and organically to the core story.  They turn Applegate's character into some kind of neat-freak, which I suppose is meant to be a quirky character trait, but she's entertaining enough with the rest of his stuff that this ultimately feels a bit forced.
Barrymore and Long are the highlights (as they should be) and they elevate the film wherever the script is lacking.  Barrymore in particular is rejuvenated here (for the most part) with an honest energy we haven't seen - her laugh is infectious and honest and really makes you love this pair.
So I don't have a strong recommend on this one, but I wouldn't deter people from watching it either.  
Going the Distance  Going the Distance [Blu-ray]

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Transmetropolitan #10: One More Time

And so it ends.  I love Spider - look at that smiling face up above, what's not to love!  This series has been a joy - it had a weird start, but then again it's quite a different world and required some serious set-up, but I think it all played in and came full circle in the end.  I still think that it might have been nice to have seen The Smiler the way that the world that believed in him saw him, just so that we could know what Spider was up against in taking him down, but I'm happy with this version all the same.
I loved the way that it ended, on Spider's terms.  I won't actually go into detail on it, but I have to say that the last page put a big-ass smile on my face.
Thank you Warren Ellis for entertaining me to no end over these last ten volumes, and thanks to Ben for the loaning and recommendation.  May I extend that recommendation to all of you!
Transmetropolitan Vol. 10: One More Time

Transmetropolitan #9: The Cure

Nine down, one to go.  This series just continues to get more exciting.  There's a decent amount of future-shock commentary, but I think it's grounded in something real and relateable.  Like I've been saying for the last few reviews of these, if you want a more generic review head back to my comments on the first book, in here we're going to talk about what's going on here (the near end of the run). 
So Spider has a new home base and he's on route to starting fresh in compiling his information on The Smiler (the President who is trying to have him killed).  Here's a wonderful description of Spider from one of the other characters:
It's like working for a four-year-old with a massive caffeine high and a permanent and yet very small erection.  And you know what the worst thing about it is?  He's the good guy.
If I have to criticize the series at all it's that the problem is we only see this world through Spider's eyes, and from there it's very clear the the President is an evil bastard, but I think what would be interesting is to get a glimpse of him through the point-of-view of the parts of the country who believe him to be their savior, if only to show how amazing he is at deception. 

One more book left, which I'll get to tonight.  My bet isn't on a super happy ending, but I can't imagine it being nihilistic and grim either.  We shall see...
Transmetropolitan Vol. 9: The Cure

Transmetropolitan #8: Dirge

 I'm very glad that I didn't give up on this series.  Looking back it's so bizarre that Ellis started it the way he did.  Although I can see how he might have just gotten really excited about the character and world and needed some time to set that up before launching into a big story.  The way everything has transgressed to this point is really quite interesting.  It feels like a big epic story (I probably said this in a previous posting, but I think this could make an excellent television series).  Take the anger of Fight Club and give it to a character that actually loves the world so much that he's willing to kill himself to get at the Truth.  But he's also an asshole :) 
This particular volume really let us know that there's a ticking clock in the narrative, and it came with some really nice poignancy amongst our heroes.  I love the dynamic amongst Spider and his filthy assistants and the care they have for each other - even if they'll never admit it.  Excited to see how this series wraps up in the next two volumes, bittersweet as it will be.
Transmetropolitan Vol. 8: Dirge (New Edition) (Transmetropolitan - Revised)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Transmetropolitan #7: Spider's Trash

It's late.  I'm tired.  This will be brief.  I wanted to write about this because I'm going to get into the next one first thing in the morning and I know if I don't write now they'll just blend into one another.  This series continues to impress and improve, and daresay it's getting far more touching as it goes along.  Spider has become a character whom I genuinely care about and want to see succeed.  Not difficult when he's a guy who's soul purpose is to let the world know 'the truth'.
This book really ratchets up the story for him, the stakes, what he's up against.
Three books left to go.  My goal is to finish the series in the next twenty-four hours.
Transmetropolitan Vol. 7: Spiders Thrash (New Edition) (Transmetropolitan - Revised)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Transmetropolitan #6: Gouge Away

Like I said, I'm blasting through these and will continue to do so - planning to finish this series off by the week's end if I can.  Really really loving how it's building and they're right deep into the 'shit getting real' phase of the story.  This would make a really excellent television series - although I'm not sure how well this would translate to any other medium, it might just be best as is all be told. 
So if you're reading this it's safe to assume that you've hopefully read those that preceded it, and if not, then be spoiler ready.
The format of these trades has been three stand-alone issues and then a three part series, although the stand alones link nicely, and in a lot of ways set up what's to come.  It's a nice story-style design.  When we start off Spider is at the height of popularity and as such the public is starting to take the piss out of him.  He's become a cartoon, a live-action series, and a porno character.  What did he expect?  In the aftermath of reading the last volume I started to have issues thinking - how the hell could the gov't actually block news from getting out, especially in this future society, but I think that this volume went a long way in making that okay with me since, as expected, Spider found a way around it.  This series has hit a really strong storyline and I'm excited to see what it's going.  The nice thing about coming in to a series after it's completion is the speed at which you can catch up and go through it.  Check it out, peoples!
Transmetropolitan Vol. 6: Gouge Away (New Edition)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

1579 - Catfish

I know that there's some question over whether or not this film is a hoax or not.  Whether it is or not doesn't change what I have to say about it...
So background, it's essentially a documentary about a guy who meets an amazing girl on Facebook but then comes to discover that all may not be what it seems.  It's an intriguing subject, and it's done quite well for the filmmakers.  And everything else in this review is going to be a SPOILER, so if you haven't seen it, stop reading here, and know that I recommend it.
I have to say that what most impresses me with the film is what happens after "the lie" is confronted.  It goes in a direction that is not at all expected, and it made the film reach a whole different level that was quite touching, even if it's sad and just a bit pathetic.  Part of the marketing campaign is that this is the "real Facebook film", and in a lot of ways it is - The Social Network was about the inventors of Facebook, and this is about it's users (as much as it can be realizing that you can't lump millions (billions?) of people into a single category. 
It's entertaining, smart, and dare I say a bit touching.  If it's a fake it's a damn fine one, and it's still an interesting and clever film.  If you're at all involved in social networking this is a film you should probably check out - fictional or not, these things happen, probably more often than you realize.
Catfish  Catfish [Blu-ray]