Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween party!

Nerds throw the best Halloween parties ever. :) Great music, awesome costumes beyond your standard vanilla fare, round after round of free drinks (thanks creepy kimono dude whose character I don't recognize!). Some very awesome costumes this year at the Comic Book Shoppe's annual Heroes and Villains Halloween party. Less anime than last year, more Justice League and steampunk. Costumes I can recall:
- the purple-haired girl from Scott Pilgrim
- Terminator (the T2 Arnie model, and a very hot chick doing the one from T3). The Terminator dude had awesome costume, was crazy tall and DJ'd to boot!
- Dark Phoenix (very hot costume, won third place I think?)
- Parallax
- Gumbo (another awesome costume)
- A couple of Marios, added bonus - one of them was a little person, a Princess Peach, and a Goombah.
- At least four Green Lanterns, but one of them may have been a cunning impression of Sheldon from Big Bang Theory doing a Green Lantern
- Speaking of Sheldon - the Doppler Effect Sheldon costume was awesome!
- Van Helsing (the Hugh Jackson version, not Anthony Hopkins version)
- A couple of Inuyasha characters I don't know the names of
- Batman crew was out in full force: two Batmans, two Catwomen (one was Michelle Pfeiffer - very cool costume, the other was 1950s Catwoman done by Shawna, also very cool costume), very hot Poison ivy, at least three Robins, one Joker (a girl doing the costume though), Penguin.
- A Superman, a Clark Kent reporter version, awesome Captain America version, a She-Hulk, Wonder Woman, I think a couple other DC characters.
- Wolverine, awesome Deadpool costume, Cyclops, Blade (very good costume, dude even had his hair cut and pattern-shaved like the character).
- One of the Ghostbusters, with a cool pack and the laser beam weapon capturing thingie that both lit up and had sounds and stuff.
- Randomly: Xena, Thor, band member of Dethklok, Jack Sparrow, a couple of ninjas, an Old Republic Storm trooper commando, and lots more.
- The prize for first place though went (very deservedly) to awesome Spy vs. Spy pair who had awesome costumes, props, and did skits. Very cool!

Blogger won't let me post images, so check my Facepage if you're on my friends list!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Reality is stranger than fiction

Sheesh, who thought this whole "World War 2" story arc would be a great idea? They started out with a bang - this whole Napoleonic thing, lots of dashing actions, fairly believable characters (a typically megalomaniac yet lovable dictator who is also AWESOME at everything notwithstanding). That was cool. Then they switched gears to a whole different continent and did "Civil War". Still lots of dashing action, they even did an episode or two set in the Wild West, good mix of romance, war, politics, and humour (they even slotted in Mark Twain! That's badass!), and the characters were more believable too. The action scenes were kinda monotonous though, Gettysburg and Antietam episodes plainly used much of the same footage for instance. But whatever, I enjoyed it so I kept watching the show. Then they dropped The Great War season on us! That was the highlight of the show for me - shit got so grim and dark (grimdark even!), and there was tons of stuff going on, and lots of famous people making cameos, and it was just over the top in general. The battle scenes of Verdun, or Vimy Ridge, or Somme, or Brusilov's Breakthrough were epic! The filmmakers used the gritty grainy effects combined with shaky cam to great effect actually. I felt they reused the sets of trench life and warfare too often, but the sets of life in the rear were refreshing. The ending was kinda meh, the authors wrote themselves into the corner with the whole positional trench warfare thingie, and they already used the 'gas' gimmick in the earlier episodes. The Russian Revolution and Civil War was a pretty clever way to bring the season to a close, but come on! Everyone must've seen it coming a mile away! World War 2 on the other hand was the most disappointing season yet (I'm still waiting to see how the whole Middle East season gets resolved, it's really dragging and I feel like they should just cancel the show). I pretty much agree with everything the guy in the blog I linked says: characters are very one-dimensional, super-weapon macguffin to resolve the season's plot is much less clever plot device than the Great War ending, the bad guys are Bad with a capital 'B' and seem to do EVILEVILEVIL all the time just for the LOLs, and come on - the entire plot is basically a rehash of the previous season with some new characters, nicer sets, better special effects (I have to give them credit - the special effects in this season are way better than Great War season), and more action. It's like they got Joss Whedon and J. J. Abrams to write the script, but didn't allow them to put in any lipstick lesbians or 'oooooooooh mysterious monsters scary!!!'. Epic fail!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Private school frenzy

Toronto Private School Expo was an interesting experience to say the least. Probably the most interesting aspect of it were the attendees, the vast majority of whom were parents or parents-to-be. Strollers were dominating the convention floor of Ron Thompson Hall despite the abundance of five-step stairs and lack of easily accessible ramps. The strollers were dominated by offsprings of anywhere between 6 months and 3 years - so this is a clear indication of how early some parents (call them responsible, well-prepared, obsessive, or worry-wort) start worrying about their children's education. Children of older ages were surprisingly few and far between, majority of parents there I guess weren't interested in considering their spawns' input on the choice of schools. The facial expressions of the parents betrayed a mix of desperation (how hard is this school to get into? How do I choose a school? How do I pay for it? Will it be good for my son/daughter? What do I do if I can't get my child into this school/afford to pay for it?), incredulity (38 thousand a YEAR? The uniforms cost HOW MUCH?), weariness (jeez that's a lot of private schools), and hope. Not quite as heart-breaking as the faces of parents waiting for lottery results of a charter school in "Waiting for Superman" documentary, but very interesting nonetheless.

Then there were the booths of the private schools themselves. If the booths and stands are any indication, there are clearly the 'have' and 'have-not' schools. Just about every booth had a laptop running some sort of demo, or showing the school's website or whatever. The crests, logos, and mottos were on prominent display, even as the PR people practically tried to pry potential customers away from competitors' booths. What I found faintly sickening or pathetic were the number of schools that trotted out their students to either give out brochures, model school uniforms (at least that's what it looked like to me), or demonstrate some sort of artistic commitment that the school has (usually music). Overall the effect was probably the opposite of what was intended: rather than highlighting the schools' commitment to student success, it presented a picture of the schools using the students for their own means. OK, so private schools are of course more interested in students as a source of revenue, but these displays drove that home. "We're going to use your child to get more parents to send their children to our school so that we can make even more money." And then there was the usual spiel about the limited spaces availability, and how important it is to make the choice ASAP and register your child, or else it's too late and the spots will be filled and oh my god what will you do then send your child to a PUBLIC school how can you possibly do that to your dear Johnny/Betty and oh my god the sky is falling!!!!!!!!!!!!!11111!!!111ONEONEONE

OK, take deep breaths you poor breeder. Take nice deep breaths. Everything will be fine. But oh no, here comes the solicituous vulture from one of the financial institutions attending the expo! (I won't list them, but rest assured that a variety of both general banks and credit institutions, as well as companies specializing in education loans) And then the panic really sets in, pitches a cooler and a lawn chair, and cracks open a brewski. Because your child's education will run you anywhere from 12 to 40 thousand a year depending on the type of school, programs, uniforms, lunch options, trips, school locations, and so on. But never fear, these helpful folks from Insert-Your-Debt-Here company will help you take out a second or third mortgage on your house, or advance you a nice 10 year line of credit. Because we wouldn't want to risk your child's future, now would we? Because clearly if you throw money at your child's future, it'll turn out better, won't it?

Dear parents: I'm very critical of some of the methods and reforms in public and Catholic education, but it's not nearly so bad that you need to sell yourself into debt slavery to send your offsprings to a private school