Monday, June 11, 2012

Old Man

Value this time in your life kids, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly.

When you're a teenager you think you can do anything, and you do.

Your twenties are a blur.

Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, "What happened to my twenties?"

Your forties, you grow a little pot belly, you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother.

Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You'll call it a procedure, but it's a surgery.

Your sixties, you have a major surgery, the music is still too loud, but it doesn't matter because you can't hear it anyway.

Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale, you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before. And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate soft yogurt and muttering "how come the kids don't call?"

By your eighties, you've had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse, who your wife can't stand, but who you call mama. Any questions?

- Billy Crystal as Mitch Robbins in City Slickers

Nobody likes getting old, except me.

Over the years, I have enjoyed many of the things that are typically associated with getting older. You don't believe me? Let me throw a few facts your way:
  • I like Werther's Original
  • I own a pair of 'indoor shoes'
  • On several occassions, including while on vacation, I have taken naps in the afternoon
  • I don't like to be in the sun too long
  • I have trouble falling asleep
  • I eat at odd times of the day
  • I have utterred the words: "You damn kids"
  • I have trouble remembering things that just happened
  • I always look for the 'best' parking spot
  • I'm fascinated by history
Yesterday, I went to see "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" with my mom. It's a movie about a group of British retirees who decide to 'outsource' their retirement to India. I thoroughly enjoyed it, not only because it was a good movie, but because I identified with the characters. I thought to myself: "there's a group of people that I would like to hang out with."

By all accounts, at 33 years old, I am an old man. the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. “Give me five bees for a quarter,” you'd say. Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones...

- Grandpa Simpson

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


William Shatner. Brent Spiner. Marina Sirtis. John de Lancie. Lou Ferrigno. Adam Baldwin. Names that would make anyone worthy to call themselves a geek literally wet their pants.

I’ve heard of ‘ComicCon’ before, the biggest one being in San Diego, which annually attracts all geeks and nerds in the known universe. It seemed an impossible dream that this phenomenon would ever come to Ottawa; but it did for one glorious weekend.

In the days leading up to the event, I must say that I felt like a child the night before Christmas: full of nervous energy and completely unable to function normally. All I could think about was seeing and hopefully meeting all these people that I had only ever read about and watched on television.

Each day, and multiple times each day, I would scour the internet for news about the Ottawa ComicCon. Where was it? Who was coming? How much were tickets? With all information in hand, Jeff and I decided to get VIP passes. We figured that if we were going to go, we might as well go in style. As it turned out, we were very glad that we did.

The day finally came, May 12. We got to the CE Centre bright and early, 9:15am. We couldn’t believe our eyes as we approached the venue. There were literally several THOUSANDS of people lined up outside, in front of the building, and around the entire parking lot.

We approached the building with an enormous sense of dread. ‘Do we have to lineup?’ we asked ourselves. ‘We have VIP passes!’ We went toward a guy holding a sign that read ‘Front of line’ and we thought ‘Okay, this is where we need to be’. We told the guy that we had VIP passes and he said that we needed to lineup with the rest of the people. WHAT!?!

Completely shocked and unable to comprehend what was happening, we made our way alongside the building looking for someone else to speak to. Surely that guy didn’t know what he was talking about. As we walked past the long line of people, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small handmade sign that read ‘VIP’. I gestured to Jeff and we immediately rushed over and presented our e-ticket. Now, I’m not a religious man, but I swear that I heard angels singing as we were instantly ushered inside.

All my nervous energy and my complete inability to function normally were now in overdrive. I vaguely recall the events that followed, only that by the end of it all, I had my picture taken in the driver’s seat of the Delorean, met and got an autograph from Adam Baldwin, met and had my picture taken with Lou Ferrigno, got an autograph from William Shatner, and attended Lou Ferrigno’s, Marina Sirtis’, William Shatner’s, Adam Baldwin’s, and Brent Spiner’s panels.

It was a once in a lifetime experience that I hope to do again next year.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Vegas - Day 6

Leaving Las Vegas. Today was our last day in Las Vegas so we wanted to make the most of it. Our flight wasn't until 11:30 tonight, so we had no shortage of time to get everything in. Ever since our first morning, we have wanted to go to Paris - Le Village Buffet, so on this our last morning, we did just that. Luckily for us, our monorail passes were still valid, and we made it there in no time at all.

There was much less of a line up today, only half the size of what it was on our first morning, when it was out the door. We were seated in less than 5 minutes, after having purchased our dining tickets at the cashier. We were seated in a little room called Bourgogne, aptly named for one of the provinces in France. There were other rooms in the restaurant that shared the similar naming convention. We did not wait for the waitress to take our drink orders before we made our way to the buffet tables.

The was an abundance of selections to choose from, including but certainly not limited to: crêpes, pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, pâtisseries, cereal, cheese, fruit, and bread. We had samplings of all of these and more and we ended up eating two plates each along with orange juice, coffee, and tea. Although Karen was very impressed with the quality of the buffet, she was quite unimpressed with the quality of tea. We spent the rest of the day by the pool, walking around, and picking up a few things for the people back home.

We returned to the MGM Grand in the evening and fittingly had supper at The Rainforest Café, the same place we ate in our first night in Las Vegas. This time, we had a coupon that we had found in one of the many free guides, which provided us with a free appetizer. We decided on a spinach and artichoke dip. I ate an incredibly spicy seafood and sausage pasta dish and Karen ate at chicken wrap. We went back to our hotel to collect our bags that we had checked with the hotel staff that morning, we got changed into warmer clothing, and we waited until 9:00 for our shuttle to the airport.

The shuttle arrived and we got on board and made a few more stops on our way to the airport. Once again, we arrived well in advanced of our flight. As we were checking in for our flight, we saw Hogan et al. doing the same and exchanged a few words with them, who looked a little worse for wear. We weighed our bag, which came in at 41 lbs, which is considerably heavier than it was when we left Ottawa. We had an hour and a half wait before the boarding call finally came, which I mostly spent reading Live and Let Die. Our flight home had a connection through Washington and we made it back to Ottawa the following morning, in about the same time it took us to get to Las Vegas.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Vegas - Day 5

Mandy and Nick meet us at the Starbucks in the lobby of our hotel for breakfast this morning. We ate and talked about our trip and how much fun we had all had. Today was their last full day in Las Vegas as they were flying out tomorrow morning. After breakfast, we all went up to our room to study a map of the monorail that runs along The Strip. We decided that taking the monorail would be a better way to get around than walking, as the latter ate up a lot of our time. We went to the monorail station in the MGM Grand and bought day passes for $12 each, which allowed us to take the monorail as many times as we wanted in a 24-hour period.

We returned to Tickets 4 Less and we were able to secure passes to tonight's performance of Penn & Teller. They were on sale for half the regular price, which was a great deal. We spent the rest of the day walking around, visiting the many hotels and casinos on The Strip, and taking several pictures, and even stopping for lunch at a very nice indoor patio in the Venetian. We each returned to our rooms to get ready and met back up at the monorail station in the MGM Grand. We took the monorail half way up The Strip, go out, and jumped into a taxi and made our way to The Rio.

The World Series of Poker was underway at The Rio and in the hallway leading to the poker rooms, I caught of glimpse of Evander Holyfield walking in the opposite direction! We made our way to the theatre box office and redeemed our passes for tickets to the 9:00 show. Before going in, we had a bite to eat nearby. The theatre was very nice and had a very jazzy atmosphere. There were two performers on the stage, a jazz duet, a pianist and a bass player, who were warming up the audience for the show. I soon discovered that the bass player was Penn! They had an envelope on the stage for everyone to sign, which I did. They put on a great show, with comedy, magic, and many things to take away and think about, but I won't spoil it for anyone. Go and see them yourself!

After the show, we took a taxi back to The Strip, and caught a show of the fountain at The Bellagio, which I recorded on video, and for which Mandy was obsessed at finding the perfect viewing position. We were also entertained by a street performer who did some close up magic using elastic, foam balls, and a coin. We left Mandy and Nick soon afterwards and went back to our hotel for the night.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Vegas - Day 4

Happy birthday America! I woke up this morning with a massive headache (due to the activities of the night before) and generally feeling a bit off as Karen came back to our room with her Starbucks. She had purchased her favourite beverage in the whole world, café mocha, as well as a bagel with cream cheese. I had a few sips of her coffee and decided that I would go downstairs and get one for myself. I came back up moments later and we sat together and finished up our breakfast.

We met up with Nick and Mandy in the afternoon and went exploring a little bit. As part of that, we made an attempt to secure tickets to Penn & Teller for tomorrow night at one of the many Tickets 4 Less locations in Las Vegas. The premise here is that if you wait until the day before or the day of the performance, you can get a great deal on tickets (as much as 1/2 off in some cases). Unfortunately, tickets for Penn & Teller weren't being sold until the day of the performance, so we had to wait until the next day.

We left Mandy and Nick to explore on their own as we had to get ready for tonight's performance of Cirque du Soleil - Love at The Mirage at 7:00. We arrived at The Mirage well before and made our way to the theatre's box office. We explored the lobby and took several pictures as it was really quite a sight to see. We peeked into the gift shop without going inside, as it was already teeming with people. We purchased refreshments from the theatre's bar, a single bottle of water, which cost us $4.50! Outrageous! We made our way through the theatre's doors and located an usher, who upon looking at our tickets, upgraded our seats considerably from the 300 section to the 100 section. As a result, we were only one row back from the stage!

The performance ended at 9:00 and as we got up from our seats to leave, the crew were already frantically preparing the theatre for the following performance at 9:30. We poured out into the lobby along with everyone else and we made our way out onto the street. We were expecting for there to be some kind of fireworks display, but we didn't know when it would happen, and we didn't know where to be so as to get a good view. We decided to stay close to The Mirage, hugging up to the guard railing along with pond in front of the hotel.

As we were waiting for something to happen in the sky, a generously inebriated fellow decided to make something happen in the The Mirage's pond. Deciding it was a nice night for a swim, he drove straight into the pond, fully dressed with backpack and all, much to the delight of the crowd. He swam around for several minutes, making his way up onto the rocks. Somehow, he managed to get all of his clothes off, save for his tighty whities, which although soaking wet, allowed him to keep what little was left of his dignity.

While all this was going on, the volcano at The Mirage began to erupt, which I caught on video, and went on for a couple of minutes. Once the volcano show ended, everyone's attention focused back onto the inebriated fellow, who was slowly getting out of sight. Moments later, the sounds of sirens could be heard and an ambulance pulled into the entrance of The Mirage, undoubtedly here to collect a package. Soon after, fireworks lit up the sky and did so for several minutes.

Karen and I made our way back to our hotel, passing through the Miracle Mile Shops, in an effort to locate something edible as we were starving. We waited in line at one place for several minutes before finally being able to give our order, only to be told that it would take them 15 minutes to make it. We continued our search and we happened upon a Sbarro, truly a gift for above. Karen ordered a slice of cheese pizza, and I got two slices of meat lovers. Upon arriving in our room, we devoured our slices and went to bed almost immediately afterwards.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Vegas - Day 3

The promise of a new day in Las Vegas! Karen and I went down to the lobby and grabbed a quick breakfast at Starbucks before meeting up with Mandy and Nick in the MGM Grand. Before leaving the room, I tried without success to reach Hogan at his hotel and I ended up leaving a voice message on someone's mailbox, I'm not sure who's. We headed out in a taxi and we dropped Mandy and Karen off at an outlet mall before continuing onto the gun range.

According to Hogan's schedule, his group was supposed to be there at noon. Nick and I showed up right on time, but they didn't. We waited around for a while, then we spoke to one of the guys that worked there and saw that they had supposedly changed their time to 2:00! Nick and I made an executive decision and we went ahead without them. We watched as a 5 year old boy shot a handgun, being help by the range officer to pull the trigger, while his dad looked on. I was the first to shoot with a menacing looking shotgun, from which I shot 10 rounds and totally dismantled my target. Nick shot next with a selection of semi-automatic weapons, including an M16. He unleashed his two clips of ammunition on a t-shirt that he bought for the occasion.

We took a taxi back to the hotel and I went up to the room, only to discover that housekeeping was in there, so I waited in the hallway until they were done. Once I got in the room, I saw a note from Karen that said that she and Mandy went to the river pool in the MGM Grand. Before meeting up with them, I took a dip in the jacuzzi tub, and the we hung out at the river pool for the rest of the afternoon. The four of us met up again, after getting cleaned up, for dinner at Fiamma in the MGM Grand. We dined together in a lavish atmosphere and finished a bottle of Greek wine, which was brought to us by the resident Sommelier, who with much flare and spectacle, proceeded to take five minutes to open the bottle and pour the wine.

That evening, we threw caution to the wind and went to Coyote Ugly in the New York, New York hotel to see how they really do things here. We spent the remainder of the evening there, drinking, talking, and laughing. The night did not end too well for me as I had to be helped back to the room by Karen and I became much better acquainted with the bathroom.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Vegas - Day 2

Waking up in Vegas. We got up at a respectable time, despite the minor amount of jet lag that we were experiencing. For breakfast on our first morning in Las Vegas, Karen wanted to go to Paris - Le Village Buffet located in the Paris hotel. We took a long walk and made it there at 11:30 in the morning, only to be met with a lineup that was out the door of the restaurant. We decided that we would try our luck at Paris - Le Village Buffet on another day and we ate at a nearby restaurant named La Crêperie. Our crêpes were so good that we weren't too dishartened about our missed opportunity.

We walked back to our hotel through various shops and malls and met up with Mandy and Nick at the MGM Grand river pool. In the evening, we all had dinner at Pampas restaurant, located in the Miracle Mile Shops of Planet Hollywood. The speciality here was all things meat which they continuously brought to your table until you told them to stop. You did this using a coaster which was green on one side (bring us more meat!) and red on the other side (stop bringing us meat!). We packed in quite a bit before calling it quits. Karen and I went back to our room and Mandy and Nick went to go see the Chriss Angel show Cirque du Soleil - Believe.