Sunday, August 29, 2010

William Shatner said I had a beautiful family

Fan expo is a place where nerds of all ilks come to celebrate their collective strangeness and geek-out about comic books, LOTR, Anime, video games, Star Wars, and of course Star Trek.  As we were passing one of the graphic novel booths, I overheard an incomprehensible debate about the nature of reality.  Ah, nerds.  I am home.

Adam and I wore our Star Trek uniforms, which meant we were in the cool crowd.  People stopped and asked to take our picture.  We didn't have the most elaborate costume there though, not by a long shot.

We also don't have enough disposible income.  I would love to have gotten my picture taken with Adam West and Burt Ward, but it cost $100 (Holy overcharge, Batman!).  Also they came near lunch time, and we were hungry. I did manage to snap a rather unflattering photo of Julie Newmar.

Last time I came to the Expo, basically anyone who bought an autograph could get a picture with their favourite actors.  That's how I got a picture (taken with my own camera) of myself with Micheal Dorn, and Anthony Montgomery.    This time a professional photographer took the shots, so the only way to get a pic was to shell out a bunch of cash.  It made me feel like a peasant, surrounded by noblemen with lots of extra moolah to devote to there nerdom.

The Star Wars Kids Hour turned out to consist of colouring sheets and a bunch of guys dressed as Storm Troopers.  At first, William was too terrified of the troopers to even go in the room, but by the end he was showing them his drawing.

After seeing the guns and swords the Star Wars guys were carrying, William wanted a weapon of his own.  We wandered around, looking at various vendors until we found a phaser and bought it for him.  Normally I don't buy gun toys, but a phaser is primarily a defensive weapon so it's okay.

In the end, I decided that I wouldn't be happy without my pic with at least one celebrity, so we shelled out $80 (ouch) and stood in line for Captain Kirk himself.  Even with the hefty price tag, the line looped around the convention centre's long hallway.  In the end we got less than a minute with William Shatner.  He was sitting on a stool all posed and ready.  I wasn't sure if I should shake his hand or what.  Instead, I boldly put my arm around his shoulder.  The whole family got to be in the shot, which will surely we one to hang in the front hall (and show all of William and Jadzia's dates they bring home as teenagers).  I thanked Shatner, and he commented on what a beautiful family I have (or maybe he said nice family, I can't remember).  I was beaming.

Unfortunately, I don't have the photo to post right now as they are going to mail it to me, so this pic of me and a storm trooper will have to do:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Tried the Infamous Deep-Fried Butter

It's been all over the newpapers and radio that the CNE is now selling deep-fried butter at one of their food stands.  It laughs in the face of health-conscious Canadians and is held up as a symbol of supreme gluttony.  Obviously I had to try it. 

We waited in an unbelievably slow line-up (the little butter balls take about twice as long to cook as they do to eat) before we were presented four, slightly smaller than timbit-sized, batter balls drizzled very sparcely with different flavours of sweet sauce ($5).  Biting into one, I discovered that it was hollow.  I had wondered before hand what keeps the butter from melting.  The answer: Nothing!  The health-offensive butter had almost completely evaporated.  I pronounce the deep-fried butter okay, but certainly not worth all the hoopla.

We also ordered a deep fried Mars bar ($5), which is made by putting the famed candybar on a stick, dipping it in batter, and then cooking it in hot oil (obviously).  The result looks like a corn-dog but instead of a hotdog inside, there's ooey gooey melted chocolate!  This one I would recommend.

Noone was brave enough to try the bacon dipped in chocolate, which just seemed wrong.

Of course we saw other stuff at the CNE, so here are some pics from the day which need no other explanation:

  BTW: My brother Craig and his family (Eireann and Baby Violet), came with us which at least quadrupled our fun-times.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ontario Place with the gang

On Thursday we went to Ontario Place as part of a Fisher Price media day.  My Mom works for Today's Parent Toronto, so we sometimes get to go to these shindigs where we are given free stuff in the hopes that we'll write about their merchandise.  Anyway, me, my kids, my mom, and my nephew all got to go to Ontario Place to try out Fisher Price toys.  The kids spent an hour or two playing with the various toys.  Some favourites were this fridge, this car thing, and this other car thing.

While Hunter and William went to play on this ridiculous climber thing across from FP (that William was slightly too short for but they let him on anyway).  Jadzia and I played some more with the toys.  She walked this Fisher Price dog around the room.  Then we saw Toopy and Binoo on a nearby stage and we all stopped what we were doing to run outside and watch.

Next, William and Hunter took "driving school", another ride that William just almost made the height requirement for.  Basically a bunch of kid-sized cars on a road, with traffic lights and the whole bit.  William did as well as the big kids (and better than some) and you could tell by his face that this was serious business for him. 

By the time Hunter and William had gotten their driver's licences it was pouring rain, so we high-tailed it to the big round thingie to watch a random IMAX movie.  It turned out to be a sequence of clips taking place north of superior, which lasted forty-five minutes and was cleverly titled "North of Superior".  Jadzia loved it, but William kept covering his ears during lots of loud parts.

After the movie, we were on our way to the water park when we spotted a band-aid truck where we made our own version of the band-aid jingle (see above and also here).  Apparently, if everone goes back to that link on August 31st and votes for us, we could win a Johnson and Johnson prize pack, whatever that means.  My kid's refuse to wear band-aids on their boo-boos (or accept any form of first aid) which could explain why they are not actually singing in the video.

The highlight of my day were the water slides, which I haven't been on for about 5 years.  It was so much fun to ride a double-tube with my nephew and chat about which water slide we liked best (the pink one for its speed, and the purple one for the darkness and the fact you get to ride double).  One of the slides, a blue one that has giant tubes made for six people, was fairly tame so we ran to get William to see if he met the height requirements.  As usual, he came just short, but the girl at the bottom said it was probably fine.  We took him up, but he really was too short.  The girl at the top told us that she would let us go down once, but to please not bring him up again.  William loved the slide and was beaming and laughing all the way down, mostly I think just excited to be among the big kids.  Meanwhile, Jadzia had a blast in the kid's splash area, where William barely got wet because he was nervous about a giant bucket of water that would tip over and soak people every so often.

After the water park, Hunter and I made a quick stop at the Wilderness Adventure Ride, a cheesey log ride that hasn't changed since I was a kid.  The spiderwebs are still on the moose's butt.  There was no line up at all, and we got a log all to ourselves.  Woosh!

Friday, August 13, 2010

For those who have been missing my on-line presence

My writing brain is mostly being used up for working on my sci fi novel.  This is the same book that I wrote in my early 20s, then read over a few years ago and said to myself "GAH! Why didn't anyone tell me this was so bad?"  I've since been re-writing it to fit my standards of perfection.  When I say re-writing, I don't mean editing.  The plot, characters, and settings have all drastically changed.  I'm a better writer now.  I'm loosely using the book First Draft in 30 Days by Karen Wiesner to help me stay on track, but since my novel has been around in some form or another for almost a decade, you could say I'm not following her time frame.  But this is the first time I've created a scene-by-scene outline, and I'm confident the book will be finished by Christmas (hopefully earlier).

After that my plan of action will be:
  • Create a nice pitch letter and synopsis (pitching is my least favourite thing, and I'm really bad at it, so I'll probably need help with this).
  • Send the pitch to agents until one of them bites
  • While that is going on, write an outline for one of my other books.  I have three projects on the back burner.  One is still in the idea stage, the other two have several chapters written (though I don't know right now whether they are up to my standards of perfection).
Next year, William will start kindergarten and the year after that Jadzia will start school.  It would be nice if I could get something in print by then, so I don't have to start making a living working at McDonald's or something.

You guys are all probably dying to know what my book is about.  If you promise not to steal my idea then I'll tell you, okay?  (Keep in mind, that since making a synopsis is a lot like pitching, I'm also not that good at it):

In the future, there's going to be this war between Earth and the outer human colonies which is fought and won by robot soldiers called "wardroids".  My book takes place 50 years after this war, when the wardroids have all been refitted to be workers and sex slaves (I know, fun right?)  The three main characters (who tell the story through alternating, first-person view points)  are: Emily, a mechanic aboard a space-mining vessel who has no memory of her past; Commander Black,  Emily's boss and former lover; and 32-80, a wardroid who works on the same ship and is a key player in the wardroid uprising.  The book is all about how their pasts and destinies are intertwined.  And there will be action and romance and all that.

Yesterday I killed someone (in my book not in real life, duh) and I was kind of feeling bummed about it.  It's a solution to the problem of evil when you think about it: Why does God cause so much suffering?  As a plot device!  The guy was a red shirt from the beginning, but still it's amazing the guilt one can feel from murdering a fictional character.  Anyway, other than that I've not been depressed or anything, just immersed in other forms of creativity (and, I must admit, some less constructive distractions as well).

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The long bike home

Today I was meeting my friend Columbia at the Aldershot drop-in (the plaza next to Ikea, for those of you who know where that is) and I got the bright idea that I could bike there as part of my new healthy lifestyle.  According to Google, that meant a journey of 7.1 kilometres.  On the way there, I barely broke a sweat (although I did sweat a little because it's friggin' HOT). 

Everyone at the Early Years was pretty impressed that I had used my own womanly powers to get there, especially since they had cancelled the park program because of a heat advisory.  I was feeling pretty proud of myself.  Of course, I had only completely the downhill portion of the journey, but I had crossed enough construction sites and highway on-ramps that I was already thinking this was probably a bad idea.

After some arm-twisting I convinced Columbia to come with me to see a movie, which meant a nice long break in my 7.1-kilometre, uphill journey home.  We walked to the theatre (Columbia didn't have a bike with her) and both agreed that it was probably too hot for walking to be a good idea.  We saw Toy Story 3, which I've seen before, but which was more enticing (and at a better time) than Cats & Dogs: the Revenge of Kitty Galore.  Since it was afternoon on a Wednesday, we pretty much had the entire theatre to ourselves.

Afterwards I left Columbia and biked up the side of a mountain, otherwise known as Brant Street.   Brant Street is a never-ending sidewalk.  There are a couple places a dip in the hill creates the illusion that there may be downhill ahead, but this is a cruel trick of the eye.  Sweaty and exhausted, I stopped at the bank to cash a cheque and soak in their air conditioning.  The kindly bank teller filled up my water bottle (because the water I had tasted like a bath).  Thanks bank-teller Jeff!

I was pretty close to my Mom's house by this point so I travelled up the worstest uphill sidewalk in the history of mankind to Cavendish.  My parents weren't home.  I considered using my spare key to partake in free air conditioning, but the kids were asleep by this point and I was not motivated to make any attempt to manoeuvre the stroller into the house.  Instead, I hung out on my parents front lawn, enjoying the exquisite bliss that comes with not moving at all.   

The way home from Mom's is down hill so once I got back on the bike, I enjoyed a fun slide down Cavendish, my speed limited only by my nerve.

William stayed asleep when I transferred him from the stroller to bed, but Jadzia did not.  Since my daughter looked about as sweaty and uncomfortable as I felt, we took a shower together.  Now I feel squeaky clean (but she, unfortunately, is already covered in marker again).

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Happy Rolph's

Since my in-laws moved to Niagara Falls, we've been looking for things to do in the area when we go for Sunday dinner.  This morning I found an article called "Top 6 Fun Free Things to Do with Kids Near Niagara Falls" which totally goes along with my pay-as-little-as-possible philosophy.  Number 1 on the list was "Happy Rolph's Bird Sanctuary" which boasted a petting zoo among other things. 

When we got there it turned out that most of the animals were gone because of a dispute with the farmer.  But there were plenty of rabbits, chickens and ducks to amuse us.  The chickens came in all different types, some white and fluffy, some speckled.  The bunnies came in all sizes and shared a pen with a family of ducklings. 

We walked down the path a little (Jadzia insisted on pushing her own stroller) where we came to a pond with some more ducks.  While throwing food for the ducks, we discovered that the water was also full of catfish and koi, who apparently also love seeds and breadcrumbs. 

I was excited to spot a small turtle, until I realized that there was a larger and far more impressive turtle just under the surface of the water, who poked his head out every so ofter to snag a breadcrumb (because we all know that bread is the universal food for all animals).

The path took us down to the lake, where William was a little obsessed with throwing rocks in the water.  We looped around and came back to a fun-looking playground, where Jadzia impressed the in-laws with her climbing skills, and William showed off his Spiderman sandals to all the big kids.

We all declared it a pretty fabulous park, despite the empty animal pens.
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