Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Box from Amazon

Yesterday, a box arrived for me in the mail from Amazon. Contained within it were two items that represent exactly where my thoughts have been in recent days.

They also happen to be the two things I planned on writing about in today's Blog!

The brown cardboard box held the new Johnny Reid CD Dance With Me, and the set of Stephenie Meyer's novels, Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn.

Let's get things started with Johnny Reid. Last Thursday night, Brenda, Lindsay, and I ventured out to Centrepointe Theatre to catch Mr. Reid and his band live. I've been a fan of his for several years, and I already owned his first two albums, Born to Roll and Kickin' Stones. I had yet to hear his new album in its entirety, but I was already a big fan of his new hit single, "A Woman Like You", getting heavy radio play on the local country stations.

I wasn't sure what to expect of the show - I'd seen him open with an acoustic set for Brad Paisley quite a while back, and I also caught his performance at Shawville Fair a few years ago. This time, though, Johnny was the headliner, in a smaller venue, and he certainly did not disappoint. We had a blast! If you haven't already been to Centrepointe for a concert, make sure you do sometime. It's small, only about 750 seats, and cozy - but what a party atmosphere within that room! It didn't take long for the predominantly middle-aged crowd to get up on their feet and embrace the music by dancing and clapping and singing along. It was also pretty cool that people could shout stuff out and actually be heard by Mr. Reid as he strolled around his classy, elegant stage in a 3-piece suit. The way he interacted with his fans and flashed his comedic side with several funny stories and quips was extremely impressive and very entertaining.

The highlights? Discovering opening act, One More Girl, an up-and-coming Canadian country duo that floored me with their beautiful voices and acoustic guitars - their tour EP has been on constant play in my CD player. And with Johnny, at the end of "Missing an Angel", he stepped forward and sang the last line without the help of his microphone, and his strong, raspy voice still filled the entire room with its beautiful power. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I really enjoyed his old-school performance of a song off the new album, "A Moon to Remember", which he claimed was inspired by the likes of some of my favourites - Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett, old bluesy rock singers like that. And then, of course, the little video I took of "Darlin" and "To the End of the Road", with the energy clearly amped up in the room and the loud clapping and cheering mingling with the sound of his voice as he and his band wandered about on-stage, smiling, laughing, and thoroughly enjoying the moment....Well, that was pretty cool.
And speaking of cool - it was also awesome to see lead guitar player Yvan, on-stage with a Canadian superstar. You see, being regulars at Gavan's, we've sort of gotten to know Yvan from his stints in Quyon with the Dennis Whitty Band, a gig that Yvan picks up in his spare time while not on the road with Johnny. I admit I paid a little more attention to him than I normally would with the guitar player in a band...And if I do say so myself, Yvan was amazing!!

I've been to many concerts at Scotiabank Place and the Civic Centre, but this one definitely ranks as one of the best I've ever been to. Looking forward to listening to my CD that arrived in the mail and reminiscing about what a great night it was!

Now, on to my boy Edward Cullen and the Twilight phenomenon that has sucked me right in.

Saturday, I finally got to see the movie, as the DVD was released and Lindsay and I rushed out to get it and then followed that up with an afternoon screening, complete with snacks - just like we were at the movie theatre!

I can safely say that I'm over my "Shane-West-as-Edward-Cullen" dilemma. Sign me up for the Rob Pattinson fan club, 'cause the boy was smokin' hot!!

I really enjoyed the movie (especially Pattinson), and I was relieved by that. I had tried to keep my expectations low, as so often I'm let down by film adaptations of books I love. But there was little to be disappointed about in this movie - most of the actors fit the roles chosen for them perfectly, and the changes made to enhance the movie experience were marginal and seemed to work well.

Of course, as with any novel turned into a movie, large chunks were left out of the story in order to fit it all in to two hours, so I found myself afterward thinking about the parts that were skipped that I loved. But overall, I had little to complain about. Kristen Stewart was the perfect Bella...And did I mention how quickly I fell under Rob Pattinson's Edward's charm? The two of them had a dynamic chemistry that was irrisistable and already has me longingly waiting for New Moon to come out in theatres. It shall be a long, painful wait until November...

But until then, I now have my own set of books to read over and over - I'm now nearing the end of New Moon, and anxiously anticipating the third book. Edward and Bella have become an addiction, and I can't wait to see where their story goes next!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Held Captive by the Edward Cullen Mystique

So, the word on the street is true.

I've fallen in love with a vampire.

I'm guessing I'm not the first person, though. I'm a little late on catching up with the Twilight phenomenon - I had basically been oblivious to it until after the movie came out - but I'm hearing that many a heart has been won over by the mysterious, beautiful Edward Cullen from Stephenie Meyer's massively successful vampire saga.

First of all, let me say this about the book: YAY for kids reading!! I'm hearing that the Twilight series has been a huge hit with teen girls, long before it ever came to the silver screen, and that makes me very, very happy. Because now, after having read the book myself, I can honestly tell you it is a cleverly-written, intelligent book, beyond the fact that is a very impressively-thick volume that I would think most girls between the ages of 13 and 18 would cower and run away from. It's the kind of book I wish had been around when I was in high school. So much more powerful and captivating than the R.L. Stine/Christopher Pike "horrors" I immersed myself in at that age. By Grade 9, I was seeking my thrills with the likes of Stephen King - books that, in retrospect, were way over my head. Twilight would have been just perfect for me back then.

Hell, it's perfect for me now! And that's another awesome aspect about the book. It can be enjoyed by teen girls and then passed on to their older sisters, cousins, aunts, mothers - it's not so far-fetched for women in their 20's, 30's, 40's and beyond to enjoy this story. As long as one keeps in touch with what it was like to be a teenage girl, self-conscious, afraid of not being able to fit in - and then, discovering an irrisistable attraction to the most handsome boy in school.

The twist? Buddy's a vampire. But you all saw that one coming, right?

So, I do have one little problem with the whole Edward Cullen thing.

It didn't take me long to get wrapped up in the story - Bella, the narrator, moves in with her father, and struggles with fitting in at her new school. She quickly discovers the can't resist the pale, beautiful boy who sits next to her in Biology, and despite some odd behaviour on his part, before long they fall in love and Bella becomes privvy to Edward's family's secret.

Yep. A whole household of vampires, living in the sticks, mingling with the humans in town. But these vampires are the good kind - they resist the temptation to suck the blood of people, choosing instead to hunt animals, which allows for a peaceful co-habitat with the humans. That doesn't mean they're not a danger - as long as they keep a safe distance, all is well. But Bella's relationship with her gorgeous vampire boy is still risky, as he must constantly fight his natural instincts in order to be with her and keep her safe.

*sigh* How romantic!!

But here's where my problem comes in: Throughout the book, I envisioned Shane West (of A Walk to Remember and ER fame) playing the role of Edward. I do that all the time - pick Hollywood actors to imagine in the roles of my favourite books. Shane seemed to fit the description of Edward Cullen to a 'T'. Pale skin, muscular body, crooked grin...Just dye his hair bronze, and ta-da!! Edward Cullen!!

So now, I've learned that it's actually a dude named Robert Pattinson who plays Edward in the movie, which I've been dying to see since I finished the last chapter of the book last night. (Okay, so it hasn't even been a whole day of "dying to see it", but I'm desperate!) Problem? I Googled Mr. Pattinson, whom I'd never heard of before, and the images I brought up did not fit what I had in my mind for Edward. He's not nearly as sexy or dangerous-looking as Shane West. He doesn't compare at all...

I'm thinking that after seeing the movie, I'll change my mind. And Robert Pattinson will become my Edward. And then I can carry on with the rest of the series, envisioning him as the most beautiful vampire boy in the world.

But as of right now, I can't escape the clashing images...I just really wish I'd been put in charge of casting this movie...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Sens on Trade Deadline Day '09

So, another NHL Trade Deadline Day has come and gone. In the past, I've sat salivating over the TSN website, waiting for juicy details about the trades of the day, and praying that maybe - just maybe - the Sens would make that perfect trade, land a big-name player to bolster the line-up, and help us on our way to the Stanley Cup.

Things were a little different this year. For the first time since I've become a Sens fan, I can sit here in early March and quite confidently declare that my team is not going to make the play-offs. They won't even make things exciting. As Steve Warne declared this morning on TGOR, they ONLY need to go 19-1 for their remaining twenty games in order to reach that magic 94 points that all but guarantees you a spot in the playoffs.

The dreams were dashed long ago. There is absolutely no hope.

So yesterday, when I got to work, I went to TSN's website and popped up the Trade Tracker half-heartedly, really not figuring on caring what would come across it throughout the day.

On past Deadline Days, I've found myself frequently disappointed. Very rarely did the Senators make any noise at all. Usually, by the end of the day, they might've added some depth or a character player. More often than not, it would be someone that would play out the rest of the season and the playoffs, and then hit the road through Unrestricted Free Agency in the summer. I'm thinking Mike Comrie, Oleg Saprykin, Tyler Arnason (worst acquisition ever), Tom Barasso...guys like that. The only one from that list I had any love for was Comrie, and we already got him back a few weeks ago, along with D-man Chris Campoli, in exchange for Dean McAmmond (who I also loved, so it was a bittersweet swap).

The Sens have hardly ever been the team to make the big splash in that department.

So needless to say, I was a little shocked when the first trade of the day that popped up belonged to the Sens!

At first, I was really disappointed to see they'd traded Antoine Vermette to the Columbus Blue Jackets for goalie Pascal Leclaire and a second-round pick in '09. You might recall, not so long ago, I devoted an entire blog to Vermette's delicious abs. Following Wade Redden's departure from the team, Vermette really was one of the last few "beautiful boys" left.

So no, Bryan Murray didn't win big points with me for shipping him off. Who's next, Mike Fisher?? Seems the man is determined to make them the ugliest team in the NHL, so beware, Mikey!

All joking aside, I've since learned that Leclaire is actually a pretty well-respected 'tender in the league, despite being shelved for the rest of this season with an ankle injury. Pierre McGuire even declared him the best netminder the Sens have ever had. (I'm not so sure about that. Pierre annoys the hell out of me on a good day. And we did once have Dominik Hasek. He was pretty amazing until that...um...adductor injury. Still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I also thought Ray Emery was considered pretty elite the year we went to the finals. At least, until he went squirrely last year...)

So the Sens proved to be quite active on Trade Day, even though they weren't making deals to help them win the Cup. Not this year, anyways. But hopefully, the deals made yesterday will help them next season.

Signing Filip Kuba to a 3-year extension, was a fairly smart move, I think. Not that he's the best defenceman in the league, but considering what we've got now, he's one of the better ones! And the absolute best thing about the day? GETTING RID OF MARTIN GERBER!! The best part about that?? WE SOMEHOW SUCKERED THE LEAFS INTO CLAIMING HIM OFF WAIVERS!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHA!!!!

Yes. That was easily my favourite part of the day. Enjoy him, Leaf fans! He's all yours!!

Murray was unable to get Chris Neil signed, so there was talk that he could be traded away, but that never happened. Thank God. I really like Neil, and I wasn't prepared to lose both him and Vermette on the same day.

I wish Vermette well with the Blue Jackets - I hope he finally hits his stride and gets things going with them. He never seemed to quite flourish in Ottawa - flashes of star quality here and there, but he never bloomed the way we had hoped. Best of luck to him in Columbus.

We won't get to see our new goalie until next season, which leaves our "big trade" feeling a little anti-climatic. But if it gains us a little stability between the pipes next season, then I'm all for it. Hopefully over the summer management is able to fill in all the cracks and crevices still remaining in the line-up - and Lord knows there's still quite a few - so that I can once again get excited about my Senators again.

I'd really like to just forget about this year and move on.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Just Me & the Girls...

It's not very often that I admit to being wrong. I hate admitting that I'm wrong, so usually, even if I am, I rarely confess to it.

When it comes to pop culture, I think I've got a pretty keen eye. In music, movies, television, etc. - I can usually tell the winners from the losers. The hits from the misses.

A few times, I can honestly say I was wrong.

For instance, I argued with a college friend years ago that Garth Brooks carried more clout and would be more legendary one day than Johnny Cash. Hooooooo boy. That one's a little embarassing to look back on.

With that same college friend, I cringed when she used to say Elvis was sexy. I thought, "How can you say that about an old dead guy?" Well. Everyone knows how I fell in love with the King a few years back myself. And I can now honestly say I have drooled over many an old photo of him, back in his young, virile days. Yowzers.

And then there was my initial distaste for Joaquin Phoenix. Lately, with this new hobo rapper look he's going for (whether it's a gimmick or not, it's still icky), I might banish him back to the pooper again yet. But for a few years there - during his Walk the Line, Ladder 49, Signs, The Village, and We Own the Night glory days - I was one of his biggest fans. If anyone had told me that at one time, I would've laughed.

Okay, so you get the picture? Sometimes...sometimes - I make mistakes. (But they are few and far between.)

In recent months, I've realized another big thing I almost missed out on.

Just this little show called Sex and the City...

I remember distinctly, on several occasions, Sharon trying to impress upon me how great the show was and how much I'd love it if I just gave it a chance. I curled up my nose, told her it wasn't my kind of thing. I saw a few snippets of it here and there, but it never caught my full attention or pulled me.

Six whole seasons of the show came and went, and I didn't consider myself the least bit deprived for having missed that boat. I didn't think I had any sort of connection to those four 30-something women looking for love in the Big Apple. I didn't think I could relate to them at all, and the whole show sounded silly to me.

Then, along came the summer of 2008, and suddenly, Sex and the City was back, and hotter than ever - this time, on the big screen. A group of my friends set up a dinner & movie night, and I went along, even though that was the flick they were dying to see. I was assured that even though I didn't know the back-story, it wouldn't hinder me from enjoying the movie.

They were right. While I had very little prior knowledge of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha, I found I could very easily slide into their world and get caught up in their lives. I loved that movie. Absolutely loved it.

I loved it so much that I asked for the DVD for Christmas. After watching it a second time, I decided I didn't want to miss out on the original six seasons of the show after all.

God Bless TV shows on DVD.

Over the holidays, I went out and bought Season 1. I'll admit, I thought at first it was a mistake. It took me a long time to get through that first season. It wasn't nearly as witty or sexy or fun as I thought it would be, judging from the whirlwind of excitement that the movie was.

But I reminded myself, having already collected all ten seasons of Friends, how going back, the first season was my least favourite of the show. Had I stopped there, just think of all the awesome Friends moments I would've missed out on. I decided to give Sex and the City another chance. After all, I had already started. I couldn't just stop after the movie and Season 1, right?

So I found Season 2 a few weeks ago at Wal-Mart, on sale for $15.00 = bonus! Took it home, started watching...And suddenly, that's it. I'm hooked! I finished Season 2 yesterday, after a few marathon sessions of watching 3 or 4 episodes in one shot. I very much looked forward to those couple of hours that I could sit down with my remote and hang out with the girls for a few episodes, to see what romantic hi-jinx they were up to now.

It was with great sadness that last night, I watched the final episode of Season 2. I don't have the third season yet, so until I can get out to a store, I'm stuck, wondering what's going to happen next.

Well, not really. Having already seen the movie, I sorta know how it all ends.

But finding out what led them to that point? I just can't wait to get all the filler. To figure out what paths they took that led them to that final chapter.

I'm so happy that I allowed myself to get swept up in the Sex and the City hype. Sorry that it took me so long, but proud of myself for giving in to it.

And just one more little thing I can say I was wrong about. ;)