Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006: The Year it Hit the Fan. Again. Hard.

Tonight, we find ourselves on the eve of 2007. All I can say is "it's about time."

I don't mean to be a downer, but I'm so happy to see 2006 go. I'm not saying nothing good has happened this year, but it sure has seemed everything good has come with a complimentary kick to the groin.


The year started with the premier and surprisingly large success of Nintendo: OldSchool Revolution, but also with having to pay for repairs to my dear old iBook.

I spent a lot of time being creative and working on films, but ended up losing touch with friends, sometimes for months at a time, as everyone got caught up in their own lives.

I finished my work on Batman's Gonna Get Shot in the Face and our TV died after only 5 years.

I saw the fantastic final cut of Batman and the flood hit.

I went to Niagara Falls for my birthday and my iBook died. Again.

I caved in and bought a shiny new MacBook. Four months later, it had a drink and left me with the bill.

I went to Canada and had an amazing time with Chantal Kreviazuk & Raine Maida, but I was miserably sick the whole time.

My favorite holiday of the year, Christmas, came along and my brother had a nasty run in with some drunken, cowardly, lowlife thugs.

See what I mean?

2006 has left me drained, but I have high hopes for 2007. I'm going into the year working on a big, great project which will soon be revealed. It'll be followed up by more excellent projects, including helping Larry out on the upcoming sequel to Zombies in My Neighborhood.

Here's to a fantastic 2007 for everyone, filled with love, happiness, and success. Adios '06, see you in the funny papers.

Holiday Recap

I hope anyone reading this had themselves a nice holiday. Mine was enjoyable, I'd say it started for me on the Wednesday before Christmas with the Bullcrank Christmas party.

It was about an hour's drive and we got lost along the way, but we eventually found the place. Due to some miscalculations regarding the door to the house and my wheelchair, the party was moved out to the garage, which was surprisingly enjoyable. It was really nice just hanging out with the whole crew, chit chatting and watching Aaron's new short film.
A lot of the gang has been a bit down lately, so Larry secretly cut together a video to rally the troops and showed it at the party. I gave him a hand with some animation for it. It's funny, I wasn't even present for most of the stuff in the video and it still makes me sentimental. You can check it out here.

Corey drove in from Pittsburgh on Thursday, so we chilled out several times throughout the weekend. We had ourselves a big Christmas-time game night on that Friday, the last one with the whole gang for a while as Brendan moved down to Florida this weekend for an internship at Disney World. He'll be down there until August. Not a bad gig, eh?

On Saturday night, Eric and Aaron visited along with Corey for a bit before they headed out for a night of barhopping. Aaron was the hero of the night, letting us have his old TV to replace the tiny one we've had standing in for our broken one.
Sharon visited on Christmas Eve and then Corey swung by for a little Madden football and a couple episodes of Trailer Park Boys.

Christmas morning was nice, everyone seemed to be happy with their gifts, I know I was. You can't go wrong with CDs (Gnarls Barkley, Regina Spektor, KT Tunstall, and Our Lady Peace), DVDs (Justice League Unlimited: Season 1, The Chronicles of Narnia: Extended Edition Gift Set, and Short Circuit- also, Corey got me Over the Hedge and The DaVinci Code), Superman stuff, and iPod accessories.

After unwrapping, we ate and Kris & I played The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, courtesy of Brendan and Mikey. A little bit later, we were off to Granny's.

It was a good time hanging out with everyone there and just relaxing. I'd have to say the highlight of the night was Jeff messing with Aunt Karen. He broke out some classic word play and wrote down "I am sofa king wee Todd did" and had her read it out loud. It was hilarious listening to her read it over and over until it finally sunk in. The moment of realization was priceless.

This Christmas was nice, but it felt Everything we did was 100% Christmas, but for some reason it didn't really feel like Christmas. I can't quite put my finger on it. Even so, I did have fun and I hope you all did too.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Spilled Milk and Other Random Bits

It's only been two weeks since my trip. I'm finding that increasingly hard to believe. Things have been so hectic and nonstop since we got back, it feels like ages. The nasty medicine I took for my cough made that week alone seem like an eternity.

I'm finally feeling better and cough free, which is a relief. As soon as I started feeling better, I began work on a small, secret project I'm helping Larry out with. It was fairly simple and I've already finished my part.

On Wednesday morning, bad luck reared its ugly head in a sudden and unexpected way. It was 5 AM, I was putzing around online as Dad passed through to the kitchen for a drink of water. On his way back to the bedroom, I asked him to give me a sip of the milk I was drinking. He lifted the glass from my tray and that's when it happened.
In slow motion, I saw the glass fumble and its milky contents rain down through the air.
Directly onto the keyboard of my MacBook.
The computer shut itself down and my stomach sank. Mom quickly awoke and did her best to dry it off before any serious damage could be done, but it was too late.
Not knowing what else to do, I went to bed and we placed the MacBook upside down to drain while I slept.

To my surprise, it did turn back on the next day, but things weren't right. Everything was running slow and the computer was frequently restarting itself. It stayed on long enough for me to backup some files, but then it shut down for what appears to have been the last time.

What really gets me is that I paid extra for the 3 year extended warranty which is void if an outside force is what screws up your machine. If that's not bad enough, I'm not even close to paying the thing off yet. I'm gonna spend the next few months paying off my sleek looking Apple iPaperweight.

It doubles nicely as a doorstop. With an Intel Core Duo processor and built-in iSight.

We're still looking into whether or not anything can be done to help me out (credit card protection, house insurance, etc.), but I'm not holding my breath.

I'm currently using my old iBook, which runs off an external harddrive. It's a bit sluggish and pretty outdated, but it's doing what I need it to. Mostly.

I really can't believe Christmas is just a week away. For some reason it just doesn't feel like Christmas to me. Maybe it's the warm weather we've been having, I don't know. I'm not turning into Scrooge here or anything, I'm feeling more like Charlie Brown. I guess I'm just having an unusually hard time getting into the spirit this year.
I have a week to turn it around though.

I guess I'll go get started on that. Stay tuned for some especially exciting news about an upcoming project I'm taking on. It's big and it's cool. Trust me.

Canada (Better Late Than Never)

It's been bugging me that it's been two weeks since my trip and I haven't blogged about it yet, so I'm taking this opportunity to remedy that.

Day 1 - November 28th, 2006

I woke up still coughing, but determined not to let it derail my plans. While coughing, I hopped online and booked our room (last minute, I know) as Mom made sure everything was packed and ready. After some more coughing, we hit the road around 1:30, a little later than I'd have liked, but good enough.

The ride was nice and uneventful, not many people traveling on a Tuesday in late November. We pulled into the road stop nearing 4:00 and headed into Denny's. I was hungry, but worried eating would irritate my throat and make the coughing worse, so I took it slow. Everything went well until a tiny sip of Coke went down the wrong way and triggered a really bad coughing fit that kept us at the rest stop much longer than planned.

Once we finally made it to Niagara Falls, we missed a turn in the dark and ended up driving the exact same path we walked when we got lost back in September. There was an eerie feeling as we drove due to the thick fog/mist rolling across the road and the lack of people around. I could hear the Silent Hill theme in my mind. Through the fog, and in complete contrast to the creepy vibe, we could see the big display of Christmas lights they had set up along the road, which was pretty cool.

We ended up getting to the festively decorated Marriott around 8:00 and quickly settled into our room. And coughed. I was okay though, I was in Niagara Falls, I was comfy, and Veronica Mars was going to be on shortly. I switched to the channel to get ready and found...a rolling picture. It rolled through the entire show, but I was still able to follow and enjoy it.

Before too long, I took my medicine, had some soup, and called it a night.

Day 2 - November 29th, 2006

This was it, the day I had been looking forward to for months had finally arrived- the day of the Chantal Kreviazuk and Raine Maida concert. I was still coughing, but my spirits were high.

We were up early and had a few hours to kill, so we loaded into the van and headed to the Pen Centre in St Catherines. It was surprisingly crowded for the early afternoon of a Wednesday, it took fifteen minutes just to find a place to park.

I'll admit, I spent a little too much on DVDs, but hey, I'm allowed to every once in a while. I got myself Superman Returns, Trailer Park Boys: Season 5, Trailer Park Boys- Xmas Special and did some Christmas shopping as the music of Our Lady Peace played over the speakers in HMV.

We nibbled a bit in the food court, restocked our Kleenex supply at the drug store, and were on our way to the Centre for the Arts at Brock University, thanks to the helpful directions of a kind taxi driver.

We arrived just before 4:00 and made our way to the Sean O'Sullivan Theatre. You might be thinking that's pretty early to show up for a concert, but as I've said before, Chantal and Raine have always been extremely kind to my family and I, this time they invited us to the sound check. I couldn't fully wrap my head around it until we were actually in there. It was an amazing evening, most of which we were lucky enough to spend actually hanging out with Raine and Chantal.

The concert itself was fantastic and very intimate in the small venue. Raine opened with a poem before playing a handful of songs from his upcoming solo CD and a great acoustic version of Innocent. Chantal played a nice mixture of old favorites and newer songs from her most recent release, Ghost Stories. They both sounded absolutely great and put on an excellent show.

Many many MANY thanks to both of them for all of their kindness and such an unforgettable experience.

Chantal & Me

Me & Raine

After leaving Brock University, we headed back to the Falls, got takeout from Fridays, and headed up to the room to eat and sleep after a long and amazing day.

Day 3 - November 30th, 2006

Before heading home, I had one last mission: find out the name of the delicious wine I had on my birthday. Mom and I headed downstairs to the Terrapin Grille, I looked at the menu, and found it. Jackson-Triggs. Fantastic, I tell you.
We were told we could find it much cheaper at a liquor store or the duty free shop. Works for me.

On our way back to the room to pack, we discovered we were locked out of our room, despite having requested a later check out time. Turns out it was just a mix up and they forgot to update our keys, a quick visit to the front desk fixed that.

I gazed out the window as Mom packed and made a couple quick phone calls. The weather was mild, hovering around 60 degrees the whole time, but the grey look of winter was always lingering on the horizon. It was very strange to see Niagara Falls so devoid of tourists. We never saw more than twenty people on the walkway overlooking the Falls.

Before long, we were on our way. It was funny, the bellman who helped us get our stuff from the room to the van actually remembered us from our last visit.

We made a quick stop at the duty free shop and grabbed some of the wine before crossing the Peace Bridge and heading home.

It was a much quicker trip than two days before, but the weather made it a bit less relaxed. We had heavy winds the whole way through New York. It felt like a giant had the van in its grasp and would randomly give a violent shake.

As we crossed into Pennsylvania, the winds died down and were replaced with dark clouds and torrential downpours. The rain stayed with us for the rest of the drive.

We arrived home just after 5:00 to share our travel stories and relax after the drive. Looking back, I know I normally never would have left the house with a cough like that, but I'm so glad I pushed myself. This experience was 100% worth it.