The Little Brother Post

Jake visited me down here this past weekend for a short but sweet visit that we have both been looking forward to for a while. This was the first time he’d flown solo and I got the sense he was a little nervous, but he did fine and arrived with little issue (besides crazy people on his flight, but that’s his story to tell).

We had a great time hanging out, catching up, playing Xbox and going to theme parks. We hit Disney on Saturday and put a sizable dent in all 4 parks befor
e putting a dent in some bangers and mash at the Rose and Crown restaurant in Epcot. I’ve never gotten the chance to eat at the pub before, only drink in the front area, so it was really nice to be able to get a reservation in early and plan around the meal (which was delicious incidentally).

Sunday we hit the Universal Parks and met up with Bruce and Stacy. Had a blast running about the parks trying out some of the rides Jake hadn’t had a chance to check out yet, plus all the classic coasters he loves. I went on Ripsaw Falls for the first time and got absolutely soaked. Unfortunately we waited till the end of the day to give it a whirl, so the sun was all but vacant when we needed it the most, and we stood around shivering and dripping wet until we made it to the gift shop to get some drier clothes. On a hot summer’s day the ride would be awesome. But in 50-degree January weather….not so much. we filled our faces with far to much food with the 'Meal Deal' plan they have at the parks (pay once eat whenever you want at specified locations). I don't want another cheeseburger for a year.

Took Jake back to the airport this morning before work. Shame to see him head back so soon, but nice to know he had as much fun hanging out with his brother as I did.


The Celtic Games Post

This weekend was the Orlando Celtic Games festival just a little north of here in Winter Springs. I headed out there to check it out, and met up with the Godziks. The festival was pretty cool and had all the clans present in booth form recruiting new members. I quickly found the Macpherson tent and made friends with the people there, then wandered over with them to the kilt tent with some hot chocolate for the guy working there (he was cold). Nice guy, sized me up for a kilt, and extended a nice discount because I was a Macpherson, and the women at our clan tent had been bringing him drinks all weekend. Didn’t drop the money to get a kilt, due to the step price, but have all his information for a later order (he’s based out of Edinburgh). The highland games were pretty cool and had everything from hammer and axe throwing to caber and bail tossing. What’s with all Scottish games involving throwing something? Chugged a few Irn-Bru and scoffed down a sausage roll while meandering from tent to tent. It was a fun day, though I wasn’t able to track down a clan crest like Bob’s, regrettably, and didn’t get a chance to show of my Lairdship to anyone.

If you didn't know; a Laird is a Scottish Lord, and is a title that I now hold thanks to an awesome Christmas present from my cousin Craig. I now own a small plot of land in South Angus, Scotland, which entitles me to use the noble title. Read my blog, peasants!

The Noisy Neighbors Post

My neighbors upstairs suck. I can’t stand them. The yell at each other really loudly and bash and bang as if they are having a wrestling match in the living room. The walls here are thick too. I’ve never so much as heard a peep out of people in my building until this family moved in upstairs. I’m not sure how many of them there are, but I know it’s at least 4 or 5 people after seeing them through the windows when I came home.

If they were cool people who where just watching the game loud or listening to music, then fine. I’m no curmudgeon*. But these guys are just loud assholes who slam doors rather than close them. Stomp rather than walk and let the fat kid/s run around in a one bedroom apartment like it’s a freaking Chuck E Cheese. Ok, I don’t know for sure if their kid is fat…but I’m guessing he is. No normal sized kid could make my lamps shake like this fat little bastard does.

Maybe I should give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they are new and their furniture hasn’t arrived yet. Maybe little fatass kid isn’t enrolled in fat-school yet and is getting antsy living in a one-bedroom with 5 people. Maybe I should just get used to consistent bangs every 5 minutes… At least living here I feel comfortable in going up and giving them crap. At the old place I think my neighbors could get away with anything less than a shotgun blast and I’d leave them alone for fear of marching into a drug den or dog fight. I’ll give them one more week. If they don’t get it under control I’m going up and yelling at them and complaining to the landlord.

---End rant.---

*vocabulary courtesy Eric Ferrara.

The Cloverfield Post

Now I feel I must preface this review with the ever popular SPOILER ALERT, being that this film was cloaked in secrecy and anticipated by many. Of course this is a review…so if you don’t want to know what happens…well I guess you shouldn’t be reading reviews really. Those who like spoilers can click here to get a good shot of what the monster actually looks like. Ok fine here.

Cloverfield is a mixed bag. On one hand it’s well acted, suspenseful and engaging while on the other…. Well as the 8 year old boy sitting in front of me said when the credits began to roll; “Is that really the end Dad? That was the dumbest movie ever. It was all blurry and you didn’t see how the monster dies”. Little Timmy* pretty much sums it up in a nut shell. Cloverfield leaves more questions unanswered than the average film by a fair margin and offers a dramatically open ending, which unfortunately sucks any sense of conclusion right out of the theater. Leaving, Timmy left wondering why he just watched 2 hours of Blair Witch/You Tube videos. As for the film style; while the hand-cam, 1st person, point of view really works for the film and adds a lot of interest and drama to every scene it also makes for many unpleasant side effects including nausea, headaches and dizziness. I suffered all three about 10 minutes into the movie and found closing my eyes during some of the running scenes to be the only way I could keep watching. While not for everyone (including me) the camera work is effective and very believable.

As with most panic fueled movies there is a lot of screaming, yelling and mob mentality in Cloverfield. The film does a very good job of limiting the mayhem and irrationality so that it still adds to the drama but doesn’t have you yelling at the characters in irritation as I often find myself doing with other films. The film does an excellent job of letting you see just enough to make up your own mind as to where the monster came from, what it's doing in the city and what happens after the credits roll. However if you don’t go in expecting a ‘build your own adventure’-type film then you will be irritated leaving the theater with the lack of resolute answers offered.

The way the film was marketed with viral postings online and clues-and-answers style treasure hunt left the end result feeling void of any real meaning. There was all kinds of effort taken to prevent leaking information about the monster and the plot of the movie, but at the end of it all I have to ask; ‘why?’. Ok there is a monster, and people panic. Is that all? Seems so. I was expecting a comparison to the 9/11 attacks, and many scenes are shot in a way that mimic said event, but the movie fails to make any statement on that or any other engaging topic. It’s a monster survival film. Period. It’s a Blair Witch version of Godzilla, and makes no attempt to be anything more.

*Timmy may or may not be this boy’s real name, but he looked like a Timmy. I’m talking Spiderman tee-shirt, bowl cut, cleft lip, the whole nine yards. If this kids name isn't Timmy then his parents are idiots.


The Macleod Wedding Post

So it’s official. Well it has been official for a while now, and I am late to post on the topic, but Paul and his fiancé Christina are now officially Mr. and Mrs. Macleod. The official-ness of the union has been cemented by a very nice FaceBook gallery by the little misses, which is the first I’ve seen of the wedding. It's weird to think of my friends being all grown up and getting married, (being away from it all down here I have a definite disbelief in pretty much any major event that occurs in my absence) but that being said I couldn’t be happier for Paul and wish both he and Christina the very best of luck in their new lives together.

The wedding was a very intimate event down in Key West with pretty much just the bride and groom together. I admire their resolve for an under the radar ceremony, but can’t claim not to be jealous I didn’t get to be there to see my good friend tie the knot. There is rumor of a reception sometime this summer in Virginia which I will be at in a heartbeat should word reach Florida. It's times like these that have me longing to return to all my friends and family. Congratulations Paul. I’m proud of you.


The I Am Legend Post

Finally saw I am Legend last night in Imax. I find that holiday releases never manage to fit into my schedule with all the end of year goings on so it was no surprise this one slipped thorough the cracks. Unfortunately, after seeing it I don’t know if it was worth catching. I never saw the ads and thought that it was a must see, but it did look like the kind of film that would be well received and would benefit from the Imax Experience™.

Turns out that the film underperformed to the degree where even 9 story screens cant make it engaging. While not a horrible film, I am Legend simple doesn’t excel in any particular category. The visuals where ok, but nothing phenomenal by today’s standards, and I find that the main efforts where dumped into making New York look deserted. They do a good job of this, but seem to think that panning over their work over and over constitutes a scene. I was impressed with the setting initially, but after seeing it from every possible angle at the beginning and end of every scene I quickly got fed up with the slow pace and found myself wondering what the plot was going to be. The dark-stalker zombie characters where rather poorly done and dripped with CG. They didn’t look like they where part of the same scene as the live action at all. The modeling what nicely executed, but the end result was a really fake looking interaction with the world around them that could have been avoided with some prosthesis and physical props. They look exactly like the Mummy monster from 1999’s film by the same name, which is a shame considering the leaps we’ve made in movie effects since then.

I am Legend has an interesting premise (cancer miracle cure turns bad and makes zombie people out of 99.9% of the population), but nothing particularly interesting transpires during the film. You can imagine how hectic and cool all the zombie mutation/evacuation aftermath was… but wont see much more than a few flashbacks from Will Smith’s p.o.v. which is a shame. Its pretty much an after-the-action-thriller, not an action-thriller itself. Unfortunately they filmmakers took the same approach with the ending, and leave a lot to be assumed by the audience, rather than actually see anything take place, which left me feeling gypped.

Characters, though well acted where shallow and overly linear. Even Smith’s character was flat and routine. You do meet additional characters, but do so too late in the movie to the point where what happens to them really doesn’t affect the audience very much. The best character interaction comes from Will and his dog, which they put allot of effort into, and succeeded on that front. Everyone else is cliché and dull. Will included.

On the plus side they where bundling a 5 minute preview of Batman’s latest; Dark Knight, which will be absolutely amazing. I found myself totally sucked into the scene they showed and felt cut off when it ended, and disappointed that I had to then watch a different film. Consider my appetite whet Mr. Wayne.


The Puggy Post

Stacey spent the her birthday this weekend up in Pennsylvania picking out the newest addition to the Godzik family from a litter of fresh pug puppies. Bruce went out to pick her up from the airport today and brought the new puppy to the office for a visit. I'm not really a fan of the handbag-dogs, but this little thing was adorable! They are still debating what to call her, but I'm sure they won't have a hard time picking something suitable. The little tike enjoyed running about down the green mile* and meeting all the new people that came out of their offices to visit her as she ran past (little waddly legs and all). I gave her a little chew toy I picked up at the pet shop which she seemed to really enjoy, though she got tuckered out pretty quickly and fell as well in Stacey's arms.

*The long, green-carpeted hallways at the office.

The Pensicola Wedding Post

Sarah's former co-worker Eve got married last weekend to her fiancé Bradley. Sarah and I were invited to the wedding which was up in the Florida panhandle, in Pensicola. It was nice to get to meet Eve, having heard so much about her from Sarah, and Bradley seems like a really standup guy. The ceremony was very nice and right on the beach, with the reception in the Officer's Club afterwards. We stayed on site at the Navy Lodge, which was kind enough to let us check in early so we could get changed for the wedding. (Ceremony started at 2:00, but check-in was at 3:00). Sarah's boss Deanne came down for the wedding as well, so it was nice to finally meet her as well, and hang out. I don't think she was particularly impressed with my poor sense of humor, but we all had a good time.

The drive was pretty killer though, and ended up being about seven hours each way. It totally blows my minds that you can start in the middle of Florida and drive for seven hours and not be in a different state. There is a good 5 hours between here and the southern tip as well… so at least we didn't have to drive the entire length of the state. Still though, the trip to the most northern tip of Virginia only takes 11 hours. Having Sarah with me for long trips makes it much more bearable though, and we had fun chatting away and rocking out to our freshly downloaded iTunes playlist (the hits of 1994).

The House of Blues Post

Last Friday Erin and Tim where in town doing the whole Disney World vacation with their families. Sarah and I headed down to Buena Vista after I was done at the office to meet up with them at Downtown Disney. After a little wander we went to the House of Blues for a bite to eat as per Dave's recommendation. My burger didn't blow me away, but our desserts where pretty awesome, and catching up with Erin was a lot of fun (crazy to think that New Century was over 4 years ago…) Nice to finally meet Tim too, who is a really nice guy. I hope the rest of the park-heavy trip went well and that they had a good time in the land of the mouse.

The New Year Visit Post

Sarah came down for the first few days in January for a visit which was great. I got really used to having her around, as this was a fairly lengthy trip by our standards. Unfortunately she needed to use up[ a lot of banked vacation time to take the trip, and won't have many more free days for a fair while. We had a great time though watching movies, playing Xbox, going out for dinner and hanging out. Missing her as always, and looking forward to the next time she's back already.


The Frozen Post

On Wednesday, Sarah and I headed down to Gaylord Palms Convention Center to check out the last day if Ice! a walk-through ice sculpture exhibit. The convention center was kept at a very chilly 9 degrees in order to sustain the massive sculptures on display, so they issued all guests a big, blue knee length parka to keep you warm during the tour (though no gloves unfortunately). The sculptures where amazing and ranged from cute animal carvings to massive buildings you could walk through. There was an ice wall for touching right at the beginning so people could get the urge to mess with the ice out of their systems, as touching/licking and climbing on the exhibit was not allowed. There where ice slides though that you could go down that where pretty impressive, even if they did make your feet soggy. Some of the stuff looked like it was molded plastic, but sure enough it was 100% ice. The ice blocks making up some of the large structures where massive and incredibly impressive. Colored ice was used in interesting ways to make some of the displays really pop, which was pretty cool and something I’d not seen before.
After the exhibit we wandered around the Gaylord hotel and got some hot chocolate. Very impressive place, with a massive atrium, indoor rock sculptures and all kinds of cool stuff. Sarah was particularly impressed with the gator display. Ve
ry nice place. We plan on going back sometime for a meal at one of the restaurants to see everything in non-Christmas attire and in the daylight.


The Resolute Post

I’m a fan of New Year’s Resolutions and this year is no different. I don’t like beating myself up over them or anything, but it is nice to set some goals for yourself. I know a few people at the office will be doing the age-old “Quit-Smoking” resolution, which is always tough. But even tougher when people like me “help” by making them feel horrible when they light up*. Just doing my part! On the list to get accomplished before 2009 are:

Watch at least 1 Movie a week
I’m playing catch-up. See the NetFlix Post

Meet and have a picture with a celebrity
Or two pseudo-celebrities. Like this guy.

Become an American Citizen
Or at least get all the paper work submitted.

Start actually enjoying going to the gym.
How I plan on convincing myself of this, I have no idea.

* You have your kids in your will right? *Lungs suck anyways. *I don’t want to know how I die, but I respect the daring of your hands-on approach.

The 2008 Post

First positing of ‘08! Happy New Year to everyone. I hope that last year was a good one, and that this one is even better. Sarah and I celebrated with Bruce and Stacey at Mark’s house last night which was nice. We met up beforehand at BJ’s Brewhouse for some (always) excellent food then headed out to the Orlando outskirts where Mark lives. Mark’s house is on a hill (which is a geographical rarity in Florida) that overlooks most of Orlando. We could see all the fireworks going over during the evening at the various theme parks. The most impressive of which where the 12:00 Disney ones by far. Though some of the fireworks Mark was setting off in the back yard where pretty impressive and where definitely the best at-home displays I’ve ever seen. Besides explosives the evening included a five-year-old running headfirst into a closed, sliding-glass door, as well as an out of control pallet fire in the groves next to Mark’s house. So entertaining to say the least.

After toasting in the New Year we headed off to Cricketer’s Arms to attempt to fill Stacey’s need for some Scotch Eggs. Arriving at 1:30 we weren’t all that surprised to find the kitchen closed. But the bar was still bustling and a lot of fun. Had a good laugh with Phil (the owner), that he won’t remember in the morning, and had a nice cap on a fun evening out. Bruce and Stacey are loads of fun, and I know Sarah had a good time.