Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Day 3- On Our Way Home

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

I slept better than the previous night, but I was still a bit tired when I woke up to a sunny Windsor Saturday morning. The previous two days, though jam packed with activities, went by surprisingly fast. Even though I had an amazing time, I felt ready to head home.

Once again, Mom was up and active a while before I was, packing and getting ready for the drive. I flipped through the channels as I woke up and was surprised at what I found. It wasn't Saturday morning cartoons, it was Saturday morning Veronica Mars. Not a bad thing to wake up to by any means.

Not much later, we were packed, bundled, and in the lobby, ready to go. I waited by the luggage while Mom made a quick stop in the gift shop to grab a copy of the local paper, in hopes of there being a review of the concert. When she got back with the paper, I smiled when I saw Chantal featured on the front page in a story about her visit to the children's ward of the Windsor Regional Hospital before the concert.

We readied our maps and road music and made sure snacks were handy (as we were traveling on empty stomachs) and finally set out.

The drive had a slightly bumpy start, thanks to some useless steps in the directions from MapQuest that led directly to a dead end, but we eventually found our way to the Ambassador Bridge.

Mom's not a fan of bridges, heights, or large bodies of water, so it was understandable when she got visibly tense when we saw how backed up traffic was on the bridge. I figured it would just be a few minute long thing, but we were on that bridge for 45 minutes because it was so backed up at customs. Even so, Mom still did great.

A few more confusing directions came and went, but we found the freeway quickly and were on our way. The drive was relaxed and smooth as we listened to my new Our Lady Peace CD and ate the occasional pretzel. A quick three hours later and we were home.

Approaching Cleveland

We unpacked, told Dad and Kris about the trip, and settled in. While watching the news, we saw that the same icebreaker we had seen the day before was now in Cleveland. Also, it looked like we had gotten out of Windsor at just the right time, as they got hit with a pretty nasty ice storm that night.

The night continued with a nice chill session with Corey, Jeff, and Eric. We kicked back, played games, swapped music, and watched my new Trailer Park Boys DVD, which is easily the funniest movie I've seen in ages.

It was a great night that wrapped up a great little adventure. Here's to the next one!

Day 2- "We Were Occupied, I Never Had to Go Outside..."

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

I hate hotel beds. I've had a water bed my whole life, so sleeping away from home has always been something of a challenge. Making sleep more of a challenge was the heater in the room. This thing was so loud and ran almost constantly. It ran so much that when I finally fell asleep, it woke me up by shutting off. Needless to say, it was a fairly restless night.

Mom was up before I was and snapped a few shots out the window. There were giant chunks of ice floating down the river in the morning sun.

As I woke up on the day of the concert, I checked out some of the many channels and was overjoyed to see MuchMusic. I was a huge fan back when our cable company carried it, but they dropped it years ago. It was where I first found a lot of the bands I still listen to today. It was nice to be able to watch it again for a few minutes.

While we got ready to go find somewhere to eat, we noticed a boat coming down the ice-filled Detroit River. As it got closer, we could see it was actually an icebreaker.

A few minutes later, it was followed by another one. It was a pretty cool sight.

Mom and I wandered down to the River Runner Lounge, just off of the hotel lobby for breakfast, but found it didn't open until 2:30. Having a half hour to kill, we decided to go check out how to get to the Chrysler Theatre. It worked out nicely, since the Hilton was right next door and the buildings are connected, we didn't even have to go outside to get to the venue.

We went as far as the ticket booth door, which was locked, and turned around to find the door we had just come through was now locked. There was an open door leading to an empty meeting room, which we passed through and found an employee who helped us out.

Still having time to kill, we wandered a bit more. Checked out the gift shop. Posed with a funky little statue. The usual.

When they finally opened, we got a quick bite and and a little wine (what a breakfast) in the lounge. Jeff called halfway through, asking what I was up to that night. When I said I was in Canada, he responded with a classic "Whaaaaaaaaaaat?" and we made plans to hang the next night.

A little while later, we headed over for the sound check, as we were so kindly invited again. It was a great time, watching Chantal and Raine play and visiting with them and their awesome crew for a bit before the show.

The concert itself was excellent. The show in St Catharines was great, but this one blew it out of the water. The venue was bigger, the crowd was bigger and more responsive, and the performances from both Raine and Chantal were more finely polished.

During his set, Raine played two new songs from his forthcoming album, both of them, especially Yellow Brick Road, sounded great. I'm really looking forward to hearing the completed album.

One funny moment came when Raine commented how happy the audience seemed and suggested it was cause of all the strip clubs in the area. Seconds later, Chantal chimed in from behind the piano, "Not gonna happen, honey."

Chantal's set was excellent, mixing it up newer songs with the older ones. After opening with So Cold, she briefly paused the show, noticing several audience members had an extremely obstructed view, due to the piano's position on the stage. She took a few minutes and actually had some chairs brought up on stage, she then brought some of the audience members up.

Chantal and the band, including Raine on bass, sounded in top form. So many personal favorites were played, including Time, Ghosts of You, Surrounded, and a recently reworked version of Wayne.

After leaving the stage, Chantal returned to the stage for an encore minus the band and completely unplugged. She sat, legs dangling over the edge of the stage, with just her guitar and her voice, no microphone or amp, and performed a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Far Away. This was my sixth time seeing her in concert and I was blown away by her ability to hold such a large crowd in awe with her voice alone.

I've always loved the song, but this was the best it's ever sounded. Obviously, I wasn't the only one who thought so, as the song was interrupted by applause for about thirty seconds before it ended.

The band returned to join Chantal for the remainder of the encore and close out an incredible show.

Mom and I quickly went back to thank Raine & Chantal and say our see-you-laters before heading back to the hotel.

We decided to stop in the lounge for a drink, but found it was closed. Before midnight. On a Friday. After a concert. In a casino town. Does that make sense to anyone? Cause it sure seemed odd to us.

So we went with Plan B and went back to the room and hit some snacks Mom packed. Some pretzels and a few cookies later, we called it a night and got some sleep before the drive home in the morning.

What an amazing day. All that without ever even going outside.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Day 1- The Winds of Windsor

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

I woke up at 10 AM, which is like the crack of dawn for me. My throat felt a bit scratchy and I desperately hoped I wasn't going to be sick for this concert too. I decided to pop a tylenol, ignore it, and keep getting ready. I threw some new music onto my iPod for the road while Mom got herself ready.

We loaded up the van and set out at 1:00. It was a pretty overcast day, but it wasn't snowing or raining, which was nice. The only bad factor from the weather was the wind. It wasn't terrible, but it was just enough to where Mom couldn't just relax and cruise. Sadly, the wind stayed with us the whole drive.

Approaching Cleveland

The drive to Windsor isn't nearly as scenic as the drive to the Falls, unless you're a big fan of fields, that is. There isn't much to look at along the way, so to pass the time, I would overly excitedly point out every frozen body of water along the way. Rivers, ponds, lakes, even ditch water. Maybe you had to be there.

Traffic wasn't too bad, thankfully. I guess we were driving at the right time. Even so, there was one semi driver who cut us off and missed us by about three feet.

I never used to think crossing state lines meant much of anything, but it is a bit weird how things can seem different the moment you enter another state. The road feels different, the bridges and freeways have a different look, and when we crossed into Michigan, it even seemed like a different season. There was much less snow on the ground and the sun came out for the first time all day.

Also for the first time on the trip, a favorite Chantal song of mine, Little Things, randomly came up on the iPod and I took it as a sign we'd have a good trip.

After sharing the road with the crazy Michigan drivers (they don't seem fond of turn signals), we arrived in Detroit and came to the tunnel to Canada, which I just found out is "the only vehicular international subaqueous border crossing in the world." Groovy.


Three hours after leaving home, we arrived in Windsor.

The high winds were strong as ever when we pulled into the Hilton (get it out of your system, insert cheesy "That's hot" joke here). Alas, it wasn't just windy, it was bitter cold and windy. With the help of Marty, the awesome bellman, we got our stuff and settled into the room a bit.

The view from our room

It was a bit cramped with my wheelchair, but it was nice. If they could combine the room from the Marriott at the Falls with the amenities of this room, it would be perfect. Tons of TV channels and free highspeed internet, including free wireless, though apparently the wireless doesn't work above the 3rd floor for some reason. We were on the 9th. Ah well, I didn't travel up there to play online.

A bit later, we were off to the mall. Yeah, I'm a sucker for shopping. Mom made me wait inside the hotel lobby while she lowered the lift on the van, that's when I heard familiar notes over the hotel music system. They were playing another of my favorite Chantal songs, Wayne. As we pulled away from the hotel, we were greeted by her name on the marquee of the Chrysler Theatre next door.

A ten minute drive and a few pictures later, we were at the Devonshire Mall.

Though the Pen Centre in St Catharines is bigger, I think I preferred this mall. It just seemed to have more variety and better stores. I bought myself Trailer Park Boys: The Movie on DVD and Our Lady Peace Live on CD. Excellent finds.

Neither of us having really eaten all day (aside from some pretzels on the road), Mom and I stopped in the food court and split some fries from New York Fries.

On the way out of the mall, I decided to indulge the action figure collector in me and head to the Toys R Us across the street. That's when it got crazy.
Since it was still windy and freezing out, Mom told me to get inside the store while she closed the van. The parking lot was empty, so I took off. Halfway to the door, a gust of wind hit me and I felt my Our Lady Peace hat quickly leave my head. I yelled out "My hat!" and spun around. The trooper that she is, Mom was already right on top of it. I spun again and resumed the journey to the door. That's when the second gust hit. This time, it caught my sweatshirt and blew it up over my head, completely covering my face. I could still see out of the corner of my eye, so I kept driving as I looked for the ramp to the door.
When Mom saw me driving across the parking lot with a sweatshirt over my face, she freaked and ran for me. Meanwhile under the sweatshirt, I have tears running down my face from laughing so hard. Mom flipped the sweatshirt down and ran back to finish closing the van while I finally got inside.
Seriously, she's a trooper.
Oh, and to complete this story, there was no trace of any figures I was looking for, though I was still laughing too hard to care.

We braved the wind and returned to the van to head back to the hotel. After dropping our stuff off in our room, we went down to the fancy restaurant on the second floor, The Park Terrace Restaurant. Maybe it's stupid, but I try to treat myself while on vacation and eat at one restaurant I'd normally consider too expensive. Sitting in the dimly lit restaurant overlooking Detroit and the Detroit River, Mom and I sipped on wine and ate bread (accompanied by fancy looking butter) before digging into the main course, roasted chicken (Mom's had fruit salsa, mine didn't) and mashed potatoes. It was pricey (to me), but fantastic.

By the time we finished, it was nearing closing time, so we took our piece of hot chocolate cake back to our room.

We split the cake and I checked my email before hopping into bed after a long, busy day.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Back Home

We're back from our great little trip! I had a blast. I'll post details later tonight!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

On the Road Again

Well gang, I'm hitting the road again for another little road trip with Mom. We're headed up to Windsor for a couple days to see Chantal and Raine again. We'll be hitting the road in a little bit here and we'll be back Saturday.

This should be awesome! I'll be sure to update when I get back. And kids, don't forget to feed the fish while I'm away.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

"They mostly come at night...mostly"

As of early this morning, Harvey Daggit and the Devil's Olives is being featured on iFilm's front page. If you haven't checked it out yet, what are you waiting for??

Things are pretty slow around here. The weather's ridiculous, we have between one and two feet of snow on the ground and some pretty hefty icicles hanging around. I'm ready for summer. Cabin fever's a pain.

I've been writing a little bit lately, but nothing too intensive, just playing with some ideas.

Mostly, I've been doing my best to whittle down my Netflix queue a bit. I've watched quite a few movies lately, but almost none have left an impression. That's not to say they're bad, I've enjoyed watching them, but so many lack that "wow" factor and I end up forgetting what I watched within a few days. Though last night was good. I watched Aliens.

I'm sure I've seen the whole movie over the years, but in bits and pieces spread out over God knows how long. This was my first time watching it all at once. I saw the wow factor. The movie's just awesome. Period.
It ended up leaving me mad at current movies. With all the advanced technology out there, these aliens from 20 years ago look better than most of the creature effects we see today. And not only do they look amazing, but they're actually scary. Sure, CGI creatures can look great, but more often than not, it's blatantly obvious that they're CGI and that's a problem. It's so much more effective when the monster's actually tangible. Tell me the alien queen wasn't terrifying.
Movies need a resurgence of animatronic creatures.

My nerdiness is showing, I better quit while I'm ahead.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Films A-Plenty

Get comfy, buttercup. Lots of video heading your way right

First up, Raine Maida's MySpace page has the video for Sex, Love, and Honey uploaded and the quality's better than on YouTube, in my opinion. You can see it here:

Raine Maida Sex Love and Honey

Add to My Profile | More Videos

Next up, loads of Bullcrank goodness. Larry just put the finishing touches on the gang's short film entry for Fox's upcoming TV show, On the Lot. They did some great work on this one in a surprisingly short amount of time. There's even a few seconds of animation by yours truly.
Check out Harvey Daggit and the Devil's Olives here:

Aaron Longstreth's been keeping extremely busy and making short films like crazy. He just made 7 more in the time it took me to type this sentence. Check out his recent shorts here:


Saturday, February 03, 2007

It Runs in the Family

Much like myself, my cousin, Jeff, has been bitten by the filmmaking bug. He's done a few short films for school so far and tonight, I saw his most recent one, Dog the Hallway Monitor. It cracked me up bigtime and I wanted to share it here. Enjoy!