Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Winnipeg Cat Has a (Local) Flavour, or: James Howard Uses the Internet For Mischief

Greetings from my lunch break! How are you all doing? Good, good.

A whole week has elapsed between my last post and this one, which is really rather unacceptable, but when a lapse like this occurs you can usually assume that I am either A) tremendously busy, B) tremendously lazy, C) up to something sneaky, or D) all of the above. If none of the above apply, it is because I am dead.

However! The correct answer, in this case, is D -- because I have alternated between being preoccupied and being so tired out of my mind that I fall asleep fully dressed with the lights on, but I've also been surreptitiously working away in my rare free time on a project of such importance (and potential entertainment) that it would have been improper to give it less than my full attention.

(Don't think that I hadn't noticed when both the Sun and the Free Press built off some of my stuff in the past week or two. I'm glad they liked it! And if it means that people start paying attention and coming up with ideas, so much the better; it's not like it was much of a big, carefully guarded secret that the area needs work.)

So what ill-advised madness and calamity am I up to this time, you might ask? Well, I'll walk you through the decision-making process I followed, so bear with me on this one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade, Saturday, November 14th, 2009

A retrospective! That's super-secret blogger code for "it was three or four days ago", but let's not dwell on semantics. These recaps usually tend to serve mainly as historical documents, anyway, as I am constantly reminded by the bizarrely high traffic on my Video Games Live review alone.

Yes, this past Saturday saw the centennial edition of the Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade -- technically the "Power Smart / JCI Winnipeg Santa Claus Parade", but no way am I typing that out any more than I need to. So, for the sake of reasonable brevity -- because I took a lot of pictures, narrowed it down to still a lot of pictures, and then took forever trying to write something for everything -- I'd like to give you folks a nice short-form summary of some high- and lowlights of the event.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Santa Claus Parade Post Pending

After much deliberation, yes, I indeed went to this year's Santa Claus Parade. Sorry, fight-game enthusiasts! I figured I would go with the least expensive option that also minimized my capacity for complete and total personal failure, and anybody who has seen me attempt to play a video game in the last few months understands immediately how useless I would have been.

Plus they threw candy! Candy is pretty great.

So I took in the Parade and its after-parade Forks festivities, including fireworks (woo!), and I intend to have a lovely post about it sometime tomorrow evening-ish. In the meantime, because I'm also pretty terrible at photography, I've been deleting countless dozens of photographs that came out like this--

--and trying to figure out what the hell I'm even looking at, like my camera was just tripping balls the whole night and nobody told me.

Regardless! A good time was had by... most... and I'll tell you about the good bits, the bad bits, and the complete and total mysteries once I've cobbled together some shots that aren't completely terrible.

[Monday Edit: Ha ha, nope, still working on it. What the hell, it's late anyway, may as well make it one for the ages. Here's hoping for tomorrow night!]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Scheduling Conflicts

Augh, Saturday. Augh, augh, Saturday.

There's a lot of interesting things to do this Saturday, if you're looking to get out and enjoy the city and its unspeakably-warm-for-November temperatures. The annual Santa Claus Parade will kick off this Saturday at 5:00 PM, and nothing brings me joy like standing in one place and letting free entertainment sail past me. Sometimes they throw candy! Candy is pretty great.

Champion and His G-Strings will also be playing the Pyramid Cabaret later that night, if, y'know, you like music. In fact, if you read these directions before noon on Friday, you -- yes, you! -- can enter for a chance to win passes to the concert! Painting Over Silence is a very fine local music blog.

And another very fine local blog, West End Dumplings, brought to my attention that SilverCity Polo Park will be screening a single showing of Gone With the Wind, in freaking High Definition, at 11:00 that morning. How often does that happen? I dare say, not very often. In fact, if you believe the hype, it happens... once. Sounds like a worthwhile venture to me!

So why am I augh-ing, you ask? What drives a man to augh in the face of a fine lineup like this? My friend, this weekend is also BaseLAN 18, and the video game tournaments that I really want to attend -- Street Fighter IV and Tekken 6, not that I stand much chance of winning a match in either of them -- completely overlap with everything else that day, and particularly the parade.

I am quite, understandably, conflicted. Few things in life entertain me like flailing and dying in fighting game tournaments, and I'm as loyal a supporter of the local fight-game scene as anyone else (who was out of town for a year and forgot everything he knew in the meantime), but anybody who knows me knows that I god damn love parades! And it's the hundredth anniversary parade, so I'm (perhaps unreasonably) expecting a great effort -- maybe not as great as the joint parade with the Grey Cup a few years back, but certainly better than the timid blahfest they ran the year immediately after that.



Of course, for those of you amongst my readers who aren't big into the world of competitive tournament-style fighting-video-games -- and that would be just about all of you, now that I think about it -- there really isn't much in the way of conflict here. So while I'm filling you in on interesting upcoming events, let me add one more that even I should be able to enjoy:

Aww, yee! Bargains! Livin' the Winnipeg dream, baby!

Note of course that this isn't their usual quarterly sale of half-off everything, which means no musical instruments this time around. (Alas.) But it's still easily enough of an incentive to get me out of the house after work, and I figured I would at least let folks know ahead of time in case they want to plan their attack formations.

Anyway -- my internal conflict and I will give the matter of Saturday scheduling some intense deliberation. I'll see if I can't pop in tomorrow evening to whip up some fine miscellaneous bloggin' in the meantime, though.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Slurpee Capital Football Team Finishes 7-11

Well, that was a stinker of a last stand.

Now, I know we're all looking forward to the post-season (not to be confused with "postseason", cue laugh track) hilarity of the fallout from this miserable, terrible, soul-crushing, playoff-killing stinkbomb of a performance. Certain sizeable segments of the fan population will call for Coach Kelly's head, Mister Congeniality himself will insist that they don't count because they aren't real fans, and he'll keep his job because so far we haven't even finished paying off the coach we had before him.

But don't automatically assume that this particular loss should be hanged on him! I used my high-ranking connections to procure a copy of the Blue Bombers' offensive playbook, and I think you'll agree that they executed it to the letter:

To be fair, he did complete one pass in the second half, which is still probably more than LeFors or Dinwiddie would have accomplished. Something to build optimism off of for next year, for you true-blue Bomber fans out there!

In all honesty, after watching that game, I'm actually sort of relieved that the season is mercifully over and we can move on with our lives. No more accusations from the Bombers staff that we just don't love the team enough, no more hilarious and terrible quarterback outings, no more Randy Turner columns about how much revenue the team is bleeding in ticket sales. (Now there's a tack of sympathy I didn't understand all year. What difference does the team's bottom line even make this season? Is there a magic dollar figure or a magic number of tickets sold, or unsold, that would result in the team not being owned wholesale by David Asper once his mall is built?)

At any rate -- see you next year, Blue Bombers! Maybe if we work together with the Manitoba Homecoming 2010 people we can throw a twentieth-anniversary party for our last Grey Cup.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Downtown, Let's Go Downtown

Love Me, Love My Uptown Magazine!

So this week saw the publication of my most recent column for everyone's favourite local weekly (haha oh snap), and I hope you'll pardon me my once again musing on the state of the downtown. But after listening to and reading so many different proclamations about the National Hockey League, none of which covered this particular angle, I figured that it would be worth considering the actual environment around our prospective hockey team's prospective hockey arena.

The MTS Centre is one of the top twenty arenas in the world, but I'd suggest that you can't quite credit its neighbours for pulling their weight in the equation. So I brought up the immediate area around the block of the MTS Centre, suggesting that the reader could take a walk around the block and judge for themselves -- but who has time to go all the way downtown and just walk around, these days? Who even goes downtown these days? (Besides me, I mean.)

Well, never let anybody tell you that James Howard talks the talk without walking the walk!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Dab Nag It!

The top half of this picture is a public transit advertisement from the Manitoba Gaming Control Commission. It features a serious-faced, middle-aged, blazer-wearing professional woman, apparently looking distraught because she is out of money and didn't stick to her spending limit.

The bottom half of the picture is the first Google Image Search result for Gail Asper, the head of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

The pranksters at the MGCC are either being very, very brave or very, very foolish. I'm on to you guys!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

I Went to the Central Canada Comic Con 2009

And, yes, I'd definitely say that I got my twelve bucks' worth.

There were cool cars:

There were cool costumes:

There were Julie Newmar and Adam West, the latter of whom had a lineup across the floor and all the way to the wall (and who, at eighty-one, is still taller than half the people in the room and swankier than everybody on the planet):

There was Batman bustin' out the fretwork:

(He practices hard to be the best at everything.)

There were children who give us hope for the future and assure us, the elders, that the future of the planet is in safe hands:

And there was the wrestling legend and longest running WWF Intercontinental Champion of all time, the Honky Tonk Man, who I just now realized wears his hair nowadays like a library mural woman or Crimson Viper.

So, good times all around. And I'm sure those of you who also went have your own favourite experiences from the event, but for me, my favourite moment was coming face-to-face and getting a picture with a legendary twenty-first-century modern icon.

That's right:

The internet-fabled, world-famous, second-generation WRESTLING SUPERSTAR VIRGIL sign. No, not even the man himself, just the sign. Virgil himself wasn't even around the couple of times I circled around, which made Bushwhacker Luke look around a bit wondering where the guy went. But, just as well; I'm not sure how I would have explained to him that I dropped the price of admission specifically to get my likeness emblazoned beside a true-blue piece of world wide web history for all the wrong reasons.

Central Canada Comic Con 2009: results are in, complete success!