Monday, September 28, 2009

The Phantom of the Opera - Reloaded

Way back in 1989 my girlfriend and I worked for Cineplex Odeon, then headed up by now convicted felon Garth Drabinsky (currently doing 7 years for ripping off about half a billion bucks with the same company that put on Phantom, muhahahahaha). We got access to some early ticket sales and booked a trip to Toronto to see it at the newly restored Pantages theatre, with about 12 friends.
Not knowing anything about Toronto, I called up my uncle to ask about hotels. At the time, he was big into real estate and told me cheerfully,
"You can stay at my company condo beside Skydome. "
Gee.. OKAY! Twist my arm. I got back to my buddies and said "I'm gonna make my own way there guys". Last I heard, they were getting a school bus from someone and were all going to head down that way (sounds like fun, too bad we're gonna miss that! Muhahahahaha)

So we arrive at my uncle's place outside Toronto, the one with the indoor movie theatre and all that fun stuff (my girlfriend/wife was suitably impressed), spent the night there and headed over into the city to the condo the next day. It was right on the water this place, Harbourfront-something, near the base of Young street. We nosed my wife's Nissan Pulsar between a Porsche and a Beamer in the underground Hotel parking and were good to go! So THIS is what the rich people are doing!

The first night I sat and watched Skydome open. It took awhile but was very cool. This was a 3 room condo, big roman bath, great view over the water on one side, CN Tower and Skydome on the other. We had scored big on this favour! All we had to do was pay the cleaning lady at the end of our stay. The place had this magic key that gave you access to the building, the tennis courts, the jacuzzi and swimming pools. It even had some indoor walkway to some underground shops across the street. You didn't have to go outside if you didn't want to. Reclusive shut-in paradise it was.

My uncle was a movie-aholic so he had VHS tapes galore (remember those?). I remember watching Friday the 13th that weekend and saw the show COPS for the first time (we didn't get that in Ottawa).

So a few nights later, we hit the Pantages in our monkey suits, and met up with our Friends. They were complaining about the fleabag motel they ended up at, with cockroaches and hookers turning tricks next door and paper-thin walls, etc. The bus-ride down was uncomfortable etc. How was our place?
"Why it's kinda the same thing, pretty crappy, lets go get our seats!" No way was I going to tell them that it was some fricken 5 star hotel and that they paid some top hat-wearing guy who looked like he should be in a circus ring to open the door for us once we flashed him "The Key".

The show was excellent. Along with the Toronto production of "Tommy", Phantom was the best play I'd ever seen. Colm Wilkenson was doing the Phantom. He rocked!

After the show we ditched our friends lest they come back to our place and expose our lie(grin) - Some friends we were! Let's order room service! Muhahahahahaha. At the time, I had the foresight to say:
"Remember this place, because it probably isn't ever gonna happen again."

So tonight my 9 year old brought home a Phantom of the Opera grade 4 chapter book and she's read it all 4 times over. I dug out the DVD we have of a film version starring Gerard Butler of all people (THIS IS SPARTA!!!! not a bad voice on the guy) and we've watched the first half. I dug out our old play program from 20 years ago (my 5 year old is looking at the pictures), every one's humming the theme and now I have to go dig up the CD I have of it and find that Phantom mask I bought my wife for Christmas the same year.

Ahh memories. The next time I run into someone who went on that trip I'll have to tell them about the fabulous place we stayed at. I think I went down the elevator with Mookie Wilson (I wasn't into baseball at the time)!

I hear they're making a Phantom II in March 2010. Look out!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Zombieland Rocks!

Just got back from a sneak peek of Zombieland. This film is an instant cult classic! Loved the Van Halen-like soundtrack and THANK GOD FOR REDNECKS!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Scribblenauts for the Nintendo DS

A few months ago, I was watching "Reviews on the Run", a great Canadian tech show dedicated to video games on all platforms. I tune in every once in awhile to check out what's coming up for the any of the game consoles I own and to admire the hardware girls, the models that hold the computer peripherals while the two guys talk about them (Evangeline Lilly from Lost got her start on that show!). My kid has a Nintendo DS. On this day they talked about this new title called Scribblenauts and it caught my attention. The catch phrase is "Write Anything, Solve Everything". You are this little pixelated dude named maxwell and you have to collect these Starites, little rewards in the game, by solving puzzles. In some cases the Starites are sitting there onscreen and you just have to go over and pick them up. They could be, stuck in a tree, guarded by a rabid dog, hidden under a boulder, buried in the ground. To help you get them, Maxwell has the ability to summon any object he can think of (from a database of 28,000 words) by writing its name on the touchscreen.

Basically you write it's name, and it appears onscreen for you to interact with. For example. You see a Starite in a tree. You can summon an AXE to chop down the tree and get the starite, or you can summon a FLAME THROWER to burn down the tree and get the Starite (the Flame thrower is great for a lot of things, I keep going back to it). You can summon GLUE and an ANVIL and you can put the glue on the Anvil, chuck it in the tree at the Starite which gets stuck to the Anvil and falls to the ground. Or you can summon GOD and he can sit there and do nothing while you think of another way to get the Starite.

After a few minutes you forget about the game and just start typing in random words just to see if the developers were crazy enough to put them in the game. MANBEARPIG is a fun one! They even have BIGFOOT! The LOCH NESS MONSTER. ZOMBIES (if you have other characters on screen the zombies touch them and turn them into zombies - except god. He seems to dispel the zombies. At least he's good for something!). CLOWN and MIDGET are there, as well as HANDCUFFS, so you can handcuff the clown to the midget just for fun, it doesn't really help you solve the puzzle. You can summon an AIRCRAFT CARRIER! I tried TIME MACHINE as a joke and by this time I was not surprised to see some type of floating buggy show up and teleport me off to the stone age where I was able to jump on the back of a BRONTOSAURUS and take him back with me to the present where he stepped on the MIDGET and made him disappear.

True to life, the game has a JERK. He is an angry looking dude who shows up and starts punching you, unless he bumps into a zombie, in which case he becomes one of them and tries to eat your brains. BAZOOKA's are useful for dealing with JERKS, as is a TANK or an ATOMIC BOMB.

This may be the best game ever invented up until this point in time. Some hacker opened up the ROM file and found some 22,000 words and exported a list of them online. Then someone else claimed to have found 28,000 words. The developers said there are much more than that!

This is a great game. My kid is learning to spell, as am I. For instance, I thought Pterodactyl started with a T!