Monday, December 26, 2005

Adventures in Boxing Day Shopping

My dreams of sleeping in over the holidays came crashing down this morning as Nathaniel decided that 6:30am was a great time to get up. Any further ideas of persuding my lovely spouse into being the one to get up with him were met with groggy death glares and some kind of mumbled voodoo charm. Not wishing to play cards with Thanatos, I dragged myself out of bed to start the little guys day.
I got his food all warmed up and prepped, and then went into his room to get him up, and damn if he hadn't gone back to sleep. So, back into the fridge they went, and back into bed I went. Fifteen minutes later, his catnap ended, and the process started all over again.
A couple hours later, after his breakfast of oatmeal and formula had been consumed, and a couple cups of tea were keeping my brain levels from bottoming out, he decided that a he wanted to nap again, and I had no regrets over the issue. This time though, I decided that it was useless to return to bed, so I got myself prepped to face the world. Foolishness or bravery (or both) had lined my heart...I planned to try some Boxing Day shopping with some Futureshop gift certificates I had. Normally I tend to stay away from stores on these days...the crowds are way too trying on my patience. However, there were some fantastic deals on blank DVD's, and I noticed there was a special price on MS XP Home...I could pick that up for my Step-Father, which would finalize his system.
So, once Nathaniel woke himself up (roughly the same time that my wife finally arrived on scene), I packed him up and the two of us headed off to Futureshop for some shopping. What a freakin' nightmare.
Most of the time I was able to navigate around the store without problems. I even chatted with a lady there about the merits of different brands of DVD's (I guess the salespeople were unhelpful, so hey, let's ask the harried looking guy with the cute baby). Then I went to look for my music DVD's. Guess what, the sales line-up goes right through that aisle, which I could have probably pushed my way through when I was alone, but with a stroller and progressively cranky baby I dared not. So, I got into line, with the expectation that I would get a chance to look when I got through that section. Twenty five minutes later, I arrived at the area I needed, and the line-up in front of me began to move 3x faster than before. I was harried to find my titles, and they were not where I expected them to be. I hoped to ask a salesperson to look for me while I stayed in line-up, but surprise...not salespeople around all of a sudden.
So, I grabbed three titles I did want to see, including Ben Folds and Waso: Live in Perth,
Live 8, and From Dusk Til Dawn (a movie I absolutely worship). No Rush and no Primus to be seen...I will have to go looking for those on another day.
After we returned home, my father soon dropped by with a 19" television set for us to use (they have upgraded to a goliath model in their living room, and the trinkle down effect of moving tv's around the house found one bumped out), and my brothers computer for help on installing a new hard drive. Melanie then informed me that we were invited to a friends house for a couple hours, but I begged off for the afternoon...I had sincere plans to do some writing and the figured if she and Nathaniel left the house for a bit I would get that chance. Ha!
I was able to install the new drive easily enough, but then freakin' XP took forever to initialize and format the thing. By the time it was done and packed up, Melanie was pulling back into the driveway with the baby. So once again, nothing done...but I look forward to getting some done tonight. Hopefully Mel will let me...umm, she's leaning on my shoulders right now...she is offering to go out with the boy again tomorrow. Let's hope inspiration flows.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Hoping everyone had a Merry Christmas!

Another Christmas has come and gone, and our household had a very good day, even though the concept of being with all of our family didn't work out this year. Nothing could be done about that though, so onwards and upwards we go.
Last night was the traditional German Christmas at Melanie's parents house. Her sister Britta was up from Minneapolis, and the six of us enjoyed a pleasant day of traditional German foods, such as Rouladin and Red Cabbage. As always, Nathaniel was in great spirits, and he made out like a bandit on gifts from his Oma, Opa and Aunty. A ton of clothes, a riding Catepillar toy and a giant plush horse were among his new belongings. Now we just need to figure out where to put them.
Today, we spent the morning with my father and grandmother for coffee, and then headed out to my mothers place for Christmas dinner.
I spent a few hours finishing the work on my step-fathers Christmas gift. We had bought for him a new Asus Motherboard, a 2.66ghz celeron processor and 512mb memory, which I installed last week, but I was rushed out of the house with a sleepy baby, work not completed. All I had to do was clean up Windows a bit to work with the new architecture. He still has Windows 98SE though, so it doesn't quite take advantage of the new power...I have convinced him to go buy an XP upgrade in the near future...that'll get the system rocking for him.
Dinner as always was wonderful and obscenely filling. The company was top notch. And once again, Nathaniel was absolutely wonderful. Bonus to us...somehow we have seconded all of the leftovers, which is wonderful for this week...very little cooking required.
The drive home was dreadful. Between the rain earlier and the heavy snowfall driving at us, visibility was almost 0. White knuckle the whole way, taking the long way around for safety reasons. We made it safe and sound.
My father gave me a call tonight asking if I wanted to come with him to Futureshop for the doorcrasher sales, which I was originally interested in; until he informed me that he would be leaving at 5:30am to go line-up. I immediately backed down. No sale is THAT important to me. I may still go out later on, so I can use my gift-certificates to pick up Rush's R30 DVD, which I have been dying to pick up. Depends on whether the weather improves or not.
This is going to be a simple week. Next two days off...back to work on Wednesday and Thursday, then Friday and Monday off. I'll catch up on my writing and a bit of reading over this period. Hopefully I'll start on some assignments for my writing course too. It's about time that I make the time for that.
Hope everyone is safe, sound and with loved ones during the holiday season. Nothing quite like it.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Pets...new and departed...and colouring our world

This has been a bit of a trying week for us in the Norton household. We were forced to have one of our cats put to sleep. Goofy, a cat of enormous girth and silent meow, had been put on double secret probation about a month ago when she was caught peeing on Nathaniels things. We had been keeping her in our bedroom with her own litterbox and food supply, and she was being extremely well behaved, until the day she was let out of the room for the day while some work was being done in the bedroom. She immediately went and relieved herself on the Alphabet mat we had bought to replace the last one she peed all over. Not amused were we.

Melanie brought Goofy into the relationship, and she made the final decision to have her put to sleep. We had looked into other options, like surrendering her to the SPCA, but they were extremely unhelpful when we asked for their assistance (It's not like we were giving her up for the hell of it...this is our sons health we are considering). Also, Melanie's vet thought this would be more humane for her then trying the adoption route. She may get a poor home, and then suffer for that. So, on Thursday afternoon, braving the terrible weather we had that day, Melanie packed up the cat and left for the vet when I got home for work. An hour or so later, it was all done.
I'm proud of Melanie's bravery in being the one to take her. I offered to do it myself, however Mel stated that Goofy stuck with her through all the goods and bads in the past, and it wouldn't be fair to not be there for the end. Now we take things gingerly one day at a time while Melanie grieves for her one and only pet. She even commented that all the rest are mine...two cats, fish and the recent addition of three female hooded rats (one of which is staring at me as I type this...it's kind of freaky). I too miss the tubby cat that squeeked like a mouse and walked like a raccoon, but I'm an animal lover in general so it's natural for me for do so. Melanie loved Goofy unconditionally, except for when it came down to the choice of Cat vs Nathaniels health, and it's obvious who would win that battle. It still really hurts.

To keep her mind occupied, Melanie has thrown herself 200% forward into painting our bedroom. WIthin a couple days time it went from an idea to a reality. I'm still kind of reeling from the speed of her decision. The first coat of paint is already up, and I expect she will have everything finished on Wednesday, when my mother is willing to take Nathaniel away for the day. If it makes her happy to do so, then all the power to her. She deserves it after this week.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Oooo...scary....

I found last weeks class to be the best so far of my current level. Until then, I was finding myself to be somewhat out of it, probably part of the problem being the late hour (8-10:30pm after a long day of work) and the other part that I just really miss my former A-E level classmates. I completely recognize the fact that in the real world of improvisation, I need to learn to work with as many types of people as possible, so this is perhaps better for me...but doesn't mean I can't wax nostalgia for my friends.
Homework from the class ended up as Horror movies, so I went through my generous collection of DVD's in that genre, and settled on the original version of The Amityville Horror. Not the scariest movie in the world, but I am rather fond of the character progression...slowly slipping into insanity...ala The Shining. Fun stuff. And the red flashing eyes? Stuff of, well, late 70's legends. And on a geek note, it had Meeno Peluce in a supporting role as one of the children. 80's television trivia...look it up.
But I digress. Tonights class, the last before we take an extended holiday break, will focus on horror as a genre. I look forward to seeing what people in the class do with it...hopefully nothing TOO stereotypical (ie. Zombies, Dracula). Following this, we will get two genres to research for our return class.

Now, on to my writing. I have honestly not had time to put more than a few words down on paper or a screen, but I do have two complete stories ready in my head...one short story and one fan fiction of indeterminate length. Now, Fan Fiction? you ask. Call me a geek, call me disturbed if you will, but I have become addicted to Harry Potter fan fiction. You can find plenty of great stories at www.schnoogle.com, and branch out from there.
I have said many times to many people that was disappointed that JK Rowling has stated she will only ever write seven books in the series, because she has created so many different options for branching stories that it could keep what I call The Potterverse going for years to come. To me, it's the equivalent of JRR Tolkien writing an extra sentence saying "...and Frodo whispered to Sam, 'I'll be back' ", and leaving you totally hanging. Wouldn't you be pissed off?
Ideas came to mind. I thought it may be acceptable if Rowling wrote the seven books, then licensed out the rights to the stories, ala Lucasarts with the Star Wars books, keeping executive control over her universe. I'd be cool with that. But people think that'll never fly.
This is why it's so cool that there is so much of this fan fiction out there. People giving their own take on back stories, Alternate Universes, theories on how it's all going to end...it's all in there. Plus you have all kinds of reading and writing levels portrayed. Stories that a grade three student could handle, and also stories that are so NC-17 that it would make Tom Savini cringe in disgust. Whatever you are looking for...you'll find it.
I know I have a long time to wait before Book Seven reaches the shelves. So, I figured for a writing exercise I would take a crack at it; but I didn't want to just steal other peoples ideas...that would be boring. So, for a purely fun exercise I am going to write my own take on what happens leading up to and after book six.
It may be good, it may be shit. It doesn't matter in the end...it's the writing that works.
The non-fanfiction short story I have on the go actually excites me...I hope to start on that tonight if I'm not too late after class. Which reminds me...I must leave now. Have a good night. I'll try to write more often.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pushing the late night stretch

Second City homework from last week was Westerns. So, I went out on Sunday and rented both The Magnificent Seven and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Now, I have discovered that the only serious chance I have of watching a non-romantic flick from beginning to end with little to no interuptions is to burn the midnight-oil. I wrapped up the first at 12:30am, and then watched the second last night until close to 12am. And now tonight I have class, which in of itself won't get me home until close to midnight. Three late nights in a row...not the easiest task for me these days.
Up until just less than a year ago this would not have bothered me in the slightest. I used to stay up well into the AM, as that was my best time to do any creative work, and plus I really didn't give a shit as to what time I went into work in the morning. Now, however, I am forced to develop a bit more courtesy for employment, as I've learned I'm not quite as indispensible as I once I thought I was, and the paycheque is a must.
Then again, my need for sleep could be just that I'm starting to get old (Ric & Rufus, no kneejerk bitchslaps please, I said STARTING, ok?).
The movies (as research material) are important, however, and I feel less guilty watching them when wife and baby are sleeping...so the time must continue. So, what I may do is pick certain nights, non-consecutive, when I watch one. This way, I may get 2 or 3 in during a week, and come into class with a lot more ideas. I hate being the one who always has to say, "No, I watched no movies, I'm a dad. 'nuff said".
btw...because The Good, The Bad & The Ugly is a marathon three hour flick, I actually started watching it while Nathaniel was awake. He sat on my knee, and flinched during the first gunshot, but took the other 82x3000e explosions (goddamn that movie is full of explosions) in stride.
Well, I'm off to class now...interested to see what our next genre assignment is going to be. Horror? Bollywood? Blaxpoitation? We shall see.

BTW...I had no intention of taking so much time off of blogging...but the remainder of my freetime was stolen by reading. What I was reading, why it took up so much time...well, I've leave that to my next post. Let's just say it actually connects with a writing project I'm slowly assembling the skeleton to.