Monday, July 15, 2019

Stantec Tower in Miniature

Here's a brick-build model of Edmonton's Stantec Tower, where I work. It's a pretty good representation--and quite a large model. 

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Gloom on the Horizon

Sylvia and I went shopping on Friday night, and during our excursion I finally succumbed and bought Gloomhaven, the well-reviewed but incredibly bulky board game of adventurous dungeon crawling. The box weighs 9 kilograms! 

Saturday, July 13, 2019


Over the course of the last few days, I have screened twelve films starring Sylvester Stallone: Escape Plan 2: Hades, all eight Rocky/Creed films, and today, Over the Top, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, and The Expendables 3. Over the Top is hot garbage that will convince you civilization is unworthy of salvation. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot hurts the brain, but somehow manages to be (somewhat insufferably) endearing. The Expendables 3 is just sad, because it features a great cast of action stars of the past forced into a by-the-numbers revenge story. I can't help but feel The Expendables films would have worked far better back in the 1980s.

This experiment is not recommended. 

Friday, July 12, 2019

A River Unknown

This image of a rushing creek was on the same negative strip as the photo of Hope and William Woods I posted yesterday, so presumably it was shot at roughly the same time and place. I wonder what they were thinking when they shot this; what was significant about this torrent of water?

CORRECTION: Upon checking the negatives again, this photo was not on the same strip as the shot of my grandparents. Mom speculated that perhaps this was part of the road to Flin Flon back in the 1960s. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Hope and William

Yesterday I scanned some very old black and white negatives for Mom, and among them was this photo of my paternal grandparents, Hope and William Woods. They both look quite young here, perhaps the youngest I've seen them; I have no idea where or when this photo might have been taken. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Another Birthday for Mom

Happy Birthday, Mom! Thanks for raising Sean and I, and for keeping us looking stylish in the difficult-to-navigate 1970s.

Mom looks great in this photo, and I love Sean's deer-in-the-headlights stare. I should clean up the dust and scratches. 

Monday, July 08, 2019

Slash and Burn

Yesterday I made grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. The grilled cheese is perhaps the simplest of culinary exercises, and yet somehow I managed to burn two fingertips and slash two knuckles during the preparation of this repast. I can explain the fingertips; I flipped one of the sandwiches too suddenly, and to prevent it from leaving the frying pan, I held one edge of the bread up to shift its centre of gravity, tipping it back into the pan. Doing so burned my fingers on the hot toast.

I am at odds to explain how I slashed my knuckles, though I note that each knuckle slashed is on one of the burned fingers. 

Sunday, July 07, 2019

A Rocky Weekend

This weekend, I screened the Rocky films from Rocky to Rocky Balboa. My quick impressions:

Rocky: Just as good as I remember.
Rocky II: Better than I expected.
Rocky III: Better than I remember.
Rocky IV: As bad as I remember.
Rocky V: Not quite as disappointing as I expected.
Rocky Balboa: Far better than I expected.

Were I to rank these, I'd say Rocky, Rocky Balboa, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky V, Rocky IV (which is to Rocky movies as Rambo III is to Rambo movies; hilarious but embarrassing Cold War propaganda).

Having watched these pretty much back-to-back, I find it amazing how Stallone and his co-creators managed to milk a very specific formula to create four good-to-great films out of six. I look forward to Creed and Creed 2

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Aldon Gray

Mom sent me some old pictures of her first cousin Aldon Gray (left), of whom she says: "He landed at Normandy and walked all the way to Germany with the South Saskatchewan Regiment. He was lucky to survive, as he was in the infantry and was under fire a lot. As he was single, he stayed in Germany to help with the displaced people until he came home in 1946. He was a quiet person, but very smart. He died in Deer Lodge (a military hospital) in Winnipeg at the age of 97. Your dad and I went to his funeral."

I appreciate Mom letting us know this slice of family history. I cleaned up the photograph she sent a little bit. I wonder what that piece of equipment is to Aldon's right; it looks like either a spotlight or one of those signal lights with the shutters. 

Friday, July 05, 2019

Old Colony Ink Bottle

Here's the bottle of ink itself, removed from its box. I should see if I can find myself a fountain pen to match. 

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Old Colony Ink

When Mom visited Manitoba last month, she bought me a present: this fountain pen ink. The packaging is in great condition, considering its age. I didn't realize Rexall was such an old company; this packaging looks like it might be been designed in the 1940s or 1950s. It's appropriate, though, because I work in Edmonton's Ice District, right next to Rexall Stadium. Pretty nice gift for a writer! Thanks, Mom! 

Wednesday, July 03, 2019

Quick Take: Spider-Man: Far from Home

Far from home, far from home, shinier than burning chrome
Entertain? Yes indeed; Meets all of your cinema needs
Go out! Go see Far from Home

Is it good? Yes, you bet; you'll be caught in this spider's web
Hey there! Best of the MCU?

Like a fresh ingenue Tom Holland really shines
And Jake Gyllenhaal is a master of crimes

Far from home, far from home, has a thought inside its dome
A pertinent message to give your brain a thought to chew
Look out! Is anything out there real? 

Far from home, far from home, stay until the credits are done
Or you'll miss a surprise that'll make you spit your fries
To me, this is a real good movie; yes it's a real good movie
Hooray for Spider-Man! 

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Quick Take: The Last Boy Scout

The Last Boy Scout (Tony Scott, 1991) is loud, brash, treats women like props, and it's ugly. But somehow it works, and I think because the creators understand the toxic masculinity on display is, in fact, toxic. Sure Joe Hallenback (Bruce Willis) gets his wife back and wins the respect of his daughter in the end, but there's no undoing the havoc wrought earlier in the film; Hallenback has still lost his best friend, Jimmy Dix (Damon Wayans) isn't getting his murdered girlfriend back, the football players ground down by the professional sports machine aren't escaping their fates.

Willis is really great in this as perhaps the bitterest private eyes I've ever seen, and his dialogue (courtesy of Shane Black, I suspect) is hilariously cynical. The action is intense yet just on the right side of believable, well-shot and edited, with gritty, violent, believable consequences. I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would. 

Monday, July 01, 2019

Shut Up & Sit Down Reviews Crokinole

I really enjoy crokinole, and my dad and his dad were really good at it, playing in tournaments together. So in their honour, and to mark Canada Day, here's the Shut Up & Sit Down review of one of Canada's most popular gifts to the  world, crokinole.