Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit is basically mandatory viewing for any fans of Lord of the Rings and probably any fan of fantasy.  So far, the reviews for the Hobbit are not the overwhelmingly positive reviews that the Lord of the Rings trilogy enjoyed, with some people criticizing its pacing and the strange effect that is created by filming the movie in 48 frames per second. I suspect that this movie suffers most from not being Lord of the Rings and if it had come out before the Lord of the Rings movies it would have been better received.  As it stands, the Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey,as good as it may be, will be perceived by most as just an inferior sequel.

 I’ll start off by saying, I was probably seeing the entire thing through rose coloured lenses.  I'm too much of a geek to not be in love with this movie. And I can't really see this movie as 'inferior', but rather just different.  It's not trying to be a dark, intense apocalyptic tale.  It's just a fun adventure.  That being said, I think I understand the criticisms about the length and pacing of the movie.  Think about it, this was supposed to be one movie originally.  No one complained.  Except studio executives I guess, who saw dollar signs and decided to turn the Hobbit, based on one book, into two movies. Alright, alright, it’s a business they want to double dip.  Can’t fault them for that.  Then a month later they decided to go for broke and turn the Hobbit, one children’s book, into an astounding 3 movies which will probably be about 3 hours each.

"I have to be in how many of these movies?  The first one is almost 3 hours long!?"

That my friends is gratuitous.  The episodic nature of the books translates to a movie where you almost feel like, they could have ended it anywhere after the two-hour mark and had the same effect as it did after 3.  After our heroes leave the Shire they go on one adventure after another until the movie seems to arbitrarily stop with them looking at their ultimate destination, the Lonely Mountain.  I also got the feeling that the movie had a lot of trouble getting off the ground.  It starts off way slow with old Bilbo, played by Ian Holm narrating his life story.  As if that's not enough,Elijah Wood as Frodo shows up to add some more padding to the movie.  Knowing that you have almost 3 hours ahead of you you find yourself asking, "Why?  Why Elijah Wood?  Why a flashback scene?  Can we just get to the point?  Or do we need to make sure there is enough material for 3 movies?"

 The slow narration brings us to Martin Freeman, a younger Bilbo Baggins, languidly smoking a pipe when Ian McKellen shows up as Gandalf. What follows is a long but rather long but enjoyable introduction of the 13 dwarves, who recruit Bilbo on their quest to recover their gold from the dragon Smaug. Now here is where I prefer the Hobbit over the Lord of the Rings.  Despite having so many characters introduced all at once in one scene, I find most of them to be far more interesting than the characters in Lord of the Rings.  Most of the characters in Lord of the Rings are these weird, other-worldy, sometimes alienating archetypes.  The dwarves who are central to this story have had their home taken from them by the evil dragon Smaug.  To fit into the world we’re told they have been forced to take jobs as craftsmen and merchants.  Something about their lost home really resonated with me.  Still, despite their tragic history, they can still turn around and party, without seeming impish and bizarre like the Hobbits in Lord of the Rings.  In short, I love the dwarves.

 I find Martin Freeman's Bilbo to be a more compelling protagonist than Frodo.  He just seems like he's a more decisive character, making choices based on compassion and a desire for adventure.  Frodo seemed to have been forced on his journey and is constantly overwhelmed, tormented and broken.  That's no fun.  I loved the grim and almost bitter character of Thorin Oakenshield played by Richard Armitage.  And even though the dwarves are mostly site gags, the scene where they intrude on Bilbo's home manages to hit a wide range of emotions from the dwarves.  For those who know the story of the Hobbit, it starts off when a company of dwarves crash Bilbo’s house and start partying, tracking mud all over his house and eating all of his food.  They’re singing and partying but when their leader Thorin finally shows up, the scene immediately becomes heavy and reverent. I was enthralled by the dwarves singing Over the Misty Mountains Cold, a lament over their lost home.  It was kind of touching.

 After that you feel like there are a few slow unnecessary scenes.  Where the Hobbit novel is a brisk tale about Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit movie is a meandering epic about the Hobbit, a bunch of dwarves, surprise cameos from the other movies and some pot smoking, hippy wizard named Radagast who rides a sleigh pulled by rabbits (the rabbits must be jacked up on steroids or something). It's not as focused and I think the movie would have had more of a punch if it was centered on Bilbo rather than 3-4 characters at once.  Of course, if you know who Radagast is (and have his Middle Earth customizable card game card…which I do), then you may not mind the added detail.

Look!  It's everyone's favourite character, Radagast!  I have his trading card!  Seriously!
The story does finally take off and when it does, it's a lot of fun.  I wondered if the over the top cartoonish action scenes would be off-putting to some.  I liked them.  To compare this to Lord of the Rings, I would say that although the Hobbit can hit a few dark notes from time to time, overall it’s a funner, lighter adventure than the often morose Lord of the Rings.  I can’t write this review without mentioning the fantastic job they did with the Riddles in the Dark chapter from the book which is of course where Bilbo meets Gollum.  Again, Andy Serkis is just brilliant as Gollum in a scene that’s funny, scary and sometimes sad.  That scene had everything I love most about this movie, namely its ability to hit all those emotional notes without betraying the tone of the story which never strays too far from being a light-hearted adventure.

 Concerning the 48 fps.  Well, have you ever been watching a blu ray, or a movie in the theater and thought to yourself, “Man, I wish the frame rate was faster!”  Of course not, but clearly the same people who would try and make 3 movies out of 1 book, would also be very interested in introducing a new gimmick to sell their movies.  This is that gimmick that no one asked for, 48fps!  I found the faster frame rate little strange.  It makes the movie look like it’s being sped up. You would have to see it to get the full impression, but it is noticeable.  Allegedly, this faster frame rate is supposed to make the 3D effects easier to swallow. Now I am a person who likes 3D movies when done properly.  This year I saw Men in Black 3 and Prometheus in 3D and thought those movies looked amazing.  The main reason is, 3D glasses normally make a movie look dark, so the movie itself has to be projected brighter than a normal movie would.  For the movies I just mentioned everything seemed bright enough that you can enjoy the 3D effects without losing the colour and detail of the picture.  I also saw the Amazing Spiderman in 3D and didn’t think it looked so good at all.  Everything was too dark and the movie ended up looking like crap.

This looked awesome in 3D.
Now, we all know that Peter Jackson is in love with New Zealand and though some people might find the grandiose shots of the mountains in Middle Earth to be unnecessary and self-indulgent, I was totally into it.  I think the 3D effects added to the feeling of being on a cliff or looking out over a vast landscape, or falling into the cavernous pits of the Goblin layer. I would go as far as saying this is among the best uses of 3D in a movie I have seen yet.  If you like 3D movies, I would say you're in for a treat.  I don't understand people who say that 3D movies give them a headache, or say that it's distracting or insist that it is a trend that won't last.  But if you're one of those people, you know what to do!  I’m still undecided on whether or not the increased frame rate is necessary, but it didn’t bother me too much at all. 

Whatever the format, if you’re a fan of fantasy, you’re going to see this movie at some point.  You might need a little bit of caffeine to carry you through the somewhat bloated 3 hours, but it seems you’ve already read this  review so you are already an expert on ‘bloated’.  As a fan of fantasy, seeing orcs battle dwarves, seeing wizards throw fire balls at wolf monsters, seeing a dragon sleeping under a mountain of gold made my inner kid go crazy. The Hobbit is a welcome addition to the world of Middle Earth. It is different enough in tone and atmosphere to not feel like a tedious repeat of what we've already seen and fun enough that I will definitely be seeing it again, while I eagerly await sequels.

 4.5 steroid enhanced rabbits out of 5.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part II

It’s the end of an era.  The Twilight movies are finally dead!  For those of you who don’t know my story/excuse for going to see these movies is long ago, before we started dating, the woman who I am now married to went with me to see the first Twilight movie.  And it was terrible.  But since then we have made it a point to see all of these in the theatre.  Sometimes we could enjoy the unintentional hilarity of the movie, bask in the sheer incompetence of the storytelling, all the while enduring how incredibly boring it is. For those of you who are not in the know, the following is not really a review but a snarky synopsis of the movie.

Well, Twilight 5 : Breaking Dawn Part 2 is not so much a movie as it was a 2 hour anti-climax and a final cash grab.   When we last left our cast in Twilight 4 : Breaking Dawn Part I, Bella had just given birth to a vampire baby, whom they name Renesmee.  Bella was turned into a vampire because essentially giving birth to a vampire killed her.

There were of course a few loose ends to tie up.  For starters, Jacob the werewolf, who has been in love with Bella for 4 movies, gets a consolation prize having lost his true love to the vampire Edward.  His consolation prize is… wait for it…Bella’s daughter!  You’re probably asking, “Wait, that guy without a shirt is in love with a baby?”  Basically, but the baby grows up super fast and the movie implies that in 7 years, he will be able to have carnal wolf relations with Bella’s daughter.  Sure, she would only be 7 years old, but would probably look much, much older.  And that makes it socially acceptable.

Twilight's new power couple : a werewolf and a 3 year old kid. Do I hear spinoff?
See, in the Twilight universe, werewolves imprint on people involuntarily.  If I remember correctly, when Jacob first sees Bella’s baby in the last movie, he makes an orgasm face and that means that he’s imprinted on her and they’re soul mates.  That is addressed in this movie resulting in a hilarious scene where Bella screams out, “You imprinted on my baby?!?”   And then she beats the crap out of Jacob, kicking him so hard that he goes flying into trees.  Then she gets bored of beating him up and stops.  I guess I’d be upset too if someone imprinted on my baby.  Nothing gets imprint stains out.  Just ask Clinton.

Other loose ends include the mandatory scenes of Bella lying to her dad, a dutifully executed a sex scene where Bella sparkles and a scene where Bella kills a mountain lion.  Because vampires sparkle and kill mountain lions…  And they also arm wrestle.  For some reason there are a few scenes showing that Bella is the strongest vampire of all.  She even beats this guy, and then breaks the rock they were arm wrestling on.  She's so badass and strong!

With all that out of the way, we can get to the plot.  At some point Edward’s cousin sees the new Cullen baby and freaks out.  Why?  Because turning children into vampires is forbidden!  And so Edward’s cousin goes to Italy to tell the evil vampire council that Edward and Bella have made a vampire baby.  The punishment for this crime is death and the vampire council goes to the US to kill both parents and child.  But technically, they didn’t turn a child into a vampire, the child was born a vampire, which turns out to be totally legal.

So the whole plot is based on a horrible misunderstanding.  The Cullen’s plan is to explain this to the vampire council when they arrive.  To strengthen their case, Edward and Bella call upon friends and family to be witnesses that our young couple have done nothing wrong (except being largely responsible for some of the worst movies in history).

For The whole second act of the movie vampire stereotypes from all over the world come to the U.S. to somehow help explain to the evil vampire council that Renesmee is not a child who turned into a vampire, but rather a child who was born as a vampire which is okay.  The vampires who come to the Cullen family’s aid include vampires with Irish accents, vampires with Italian accents, Indian vampires and Brazillian vampires (the brazillian vampires don’t have cheesy accents but we know they’re brazillian because they wear loin cloths… ?).  As an added bonus, all the vampires have super powers!  There’s a vampire with electricity powers, there’s a vampire that can control the elements, we even discover that Bella can make vampire force fields.  All vampires can jump super high and move at super speed.   The take home lesson from all of this is that even though they don’t intend to get into a fight, they would be ready for a fight should one ever occur.  *wink*

Now, even though these vampires from around the world show up in minutes, it takes the evil vampires the entire movie to show up.  The movie ends when all these vampires explain that Renesmee is not the bad kind of vampire child, but the good kind.  The vampire bad guys actually agree, “Yeah, she’s not evil and no threat to us.”  But, for some reason the bad guys want to fight anyway. Luckily, there’s a psychic vampire on the Cullen’s side who convinces the evil vampires that if they fight, lots of vampires will die, including the evil vampire boss, played by a delightfully hammy Michael Sheen.  And so the bad guys decide to go home to avoid unnecessary loss of life.  The end!  You think I’m joking?  That’s how the Twilight Saga ends with shrugged shoulders and everyone going home.  I was not amused.  

Here's a video of me after seeing the ending to Twilight.

Perhaps you’ve seen the trailers and posters and you’re thinking, “Wait, wait… I’m sure I saw some fighting in the movie.”  Well, here is where I am tempted to say there was 10 or so minutes of the franchise that didn’t totally suck.  Before everyone goes home, in order to convince the evil vampires that they shouldn’t fight the Cullens, the psychic vampire gives the evil vampire boss a vision of the battle that would have ensued if they actually did fight each other.  So we get to see a battle that didn’t really happen.

The good news for the viewer is, the only way to kill a vampire is to rip off its head.  So there are about 10 minutes of graphic decapitations.  I don’t know if it’s my imagination but it seems to me that the battle basically proceeds this way. 

Phase 1: A bad guy vampire kills a good guy vampire’s boyfriend by ripping his head off.  Then they scream, “NOOOOOOOO!!!” Then a good guy vampire kills a bad guy vampire’s boyfriend by ripping his head off.  Repeat.

Phase 2: The vampires bust out their super powers.  Electricity, earthquakes and Bella forcefields abound!  At one point the Indian vampire opens up the ground beneath them and obviously, 100 feet down there is hot magma.  Presumably that is the Earth’s core and the earth is approximately 250 feet in diameter.  So some werewolves and vampires fall into the magma.

Phase 3: they start ripping off the heads of the B-list celebrities.  They rip off that guy’s head.  A wolf rips off Dakota Fanning’s head with its jaws.  Then Bella and Edward rip off Michael Sheen’s head.  That decapitation was particularly graphic with Bella and Edward pulling on Michael Sheen like he was a wishbone until ‘pop’! his head flies off.  But the head is still alive, so they take a torch to the head and burn it up! Best love story ever.  It was awesome and for a while I was worried I would have to admit that I actually legitimately enjoyed about 10 minutes of Twilight.

But then they kind of wake up and you realize none of that awesomeness actually happened.  Does the scene still count if it didn’t really happen in the movie?  Can I safely say I’ve seen the entire Twilight series and didn’t enjoy any of it?  I guess not.  The movie ends with a montage of other scenes from Twilight just in case you have forgotten how bad these movies are.  I got some good laughs, especially at the pictures of Edward looking constipated and creepy.

"Ummm... Could you maybe give me a few inches? You're making me very uncomfortable."
In conclusion, I don’t think Stephanie Meyers knows what a vampire is.  Or what or where Brazil is for that matter.  Oh well, as my wife said, we have closed our loop (a quote from an actual good movie, called Looper, you should go see that).  We even went back to the crappy cinema in the Cavendish mall where we first went to see the first Twilight movie over 4 years ago.  When we walked into the lobby, there was me and my wife, 4 people at the concession stand and 1 person to take our ticket.  No one else!  It was super quiet, almost spooky.  There were a few people in the theatre.  There was something appropriate about seeing the last Twilight movie in the almost completely desolate cinema.  I felt like we were being given a semi-private screening as a reward for enduring so much.  And now it’s finally over.

Burn in hell, Twilight movies! 

1 pedophile werewolf out of 5.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I guess recently we've been in an 80's, 90's movie mode at the Gregg household.  This week I'd like to highlight one of the best and simultaneously worst movies ever made : Mortal Kombat.  At the time this movie was released I was about 14 years old and was an avid fan of the video game that featured over the top gore, causing parents quite a bit of distress at the time.

Surprisingly it wasn't a very difficult sell for my wife.  "Wife," I explained to her, "Mortal Kombat is one of the worst movies ever made."  Almost immediately she found a copy of it.

Anyone else around my age remember all the cheering in the movie theatre when you went to see Mortal Kombat?  I mean one of the best things about this movie is the ridiculous opening 'credits'.  They're not really credits, just an insane flaming dragon logo with one of the cheesiest dance songs ever made playing in the background.  As if you don't remember the opening of Mortal Kombat, here it is :

Why do I love this song so much?  It's 30 seconds of music, repeated ad nauseam (if you ever listen to the full song), with someone yelling 'mortal kombat' in the background.  Simple, thrilling and effective.  I remember cheers in the movie theatre.   And that's before the movie has even started!

I like to think of it this way... Some movies are 'based on' video games.  This movie IS a video game.  Maybe they take 10 minutes to lay down a plot having to do with a tournament that humans must win or have their world destroyed. The rest of the movie is about half a dozen fight scenes with characters from the video game. 

Bad lines, bad acting, bad special  effects and a ridiculous story featuring Christopher Lambert reaching new heights of cheesy awfulness, Mortal Kombat is one of those movies that is so unabashedly moronic, it wins you over very almost immediately.  The movie seals the deal when Johnny Cage punches the four-armed monster, Goro, in the nuts.

I may never understand why this movie was so successful, or why me and many others shamelessly enjoyed it.  These days, lots of movies claim that we're supposed to enjoy them by not thinking about how bad they are.  Like Transformers 2 and 3 or pretty much any Michael Bay movie. Well, Mr. Bay, take notes.  This is how bad movies are done. 

Now, who wants to put together a Mortal Kombat flash dance group with me?

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Bad Guy

Last night were the provincial elections in Quebec and we had quite a double header at my place.  It started with Raiders of the Lost Ark and ended with the 1987 classic, Masters of the Universe.  I probably watched the latter because I had just seen the amazing Frank Langella in the Robot and Frank and I had just seen the not so amazing Dolph Lundgren in the Expendables 2 (which was amazing).  I didn't want to watch a play by play of the elections.  Watching these movies was like fast forwarding to the ending of the provincial elections.

The most striking thinkg about Raiders of the Lost Ark is the wanton slaughter of Nazis.  Back in its day this was a PG movie and if you remember people get run over by trucks, mutilated by airplane propellers... We see guys melting, we see guys heads explode in a gory mess!  Indiana Jones has one solution to any conflict : over the top violence.  It's easy to forget how ridiculously violent and gory these movies were because ever since the Last Crusade, Indiana Jones and movies in general have become more tame.  Raiders of the Lost Ark takes place in a moral vacuum, probably because we are okay with watching the 'bad guy', this time around Nazis, getting brutally murdered for over two hours.

Masters of the Universe was considerably lighter fare, but what struck me as I fell asleep was how Courtney Cox explains to He-man that she was attacked by monsters.  I wondered to myself, do Skeletor's minions consider themselves monsters?  I wonder what Beastman would say if he heard Courntey Cox speaking that way. He'd probably say, "Hey, I'm just doing me.  I gotta eat, I gotta live.  People were calling me a monster long before I started working for Skeletor.  People were calling my parents monsters!  It's like every morning I wake up and the whole world is against me.  So if you're scared of me, remember, I do this because I'm scared of you!"

"I'm just trying to do me!"
I fell asleep, and when I woke up my first thought was, "Geez, Beastman really let himself go."  I then realized that I was watching the news and Pauline Marois had just won a minority government. I soon learned that two people had been shot and eventually we learned that one of them had died.  Sadly, nothing was different from the over the top fantasy movies I had been watching, there were good guys, bad guys and violence.  

Granted the man who committed this crime was insane and should not be considered representative of any specific demographic.   But I'm just writing this as a reminder to myself not to demonize people who exist at another end of a political spectrum.  Don't get me wrong, the PQ relies on xenophobia and discontent to get their votes and I am convinced that their platform is senseless and destructive.  But you think about the millions of people involved, Anglophone, Allophone and Francophone turning on their televisions, reading news articles and everyone is trying to convince us that the world is out to get us.  Francophones who voted PQ are probably looking at the world and feeling as if they are surrounded by people who hate them, people who want to humiliate them and people who want to oppress them, whether that feeling is justified or not.  Anglophones and Allophones in Quebec were coming from a similar place when they look at polls (which were completely bogus by the way) and hear Pauline Marois' rhetoric.  So instead of voting to make this province a better place we voted out of fear of the other guy.  I'm not saying its right or wrong, or that there is a solution to any of this, just noticing a sad truth.

I look forward to the day when we don't have the words 'je me souviens' on our license plates.  I like Quebec, I really do.  But everyone who lives here comes from a background where they can hold onto grudges, be angry, be bitter, be afraid ... If somehow people can get over that, maybe we can be a little more productive than we have been in the past.

Most likely if you're reading this you're of a similar political persuasion as me and you're not happy to see that Pauline Marois is now our premier.  But, that's democracy and it's a good thing!  Jean Charest has been premier for almost a decade!  So at least people who thought the Liberals needed a wakeup call get to have their way.  With a minority government the PQ won't have the power to do something crazy in the near future.  Everyone wins and everyone loses.  Seems fair.  Maybe next time things will go our way, maybe they won't.  In the meantime we still live in a fairly comfortable place and we have the option to leave this province if things become unbearable.  Just hoping we can live and let live and violence and hate won't become the standard under Marois' leadership.

Friday, August 31, 2012


I was driving home at about 9:30 at night just about to cross the Champlain Bridge.  I was doing about 20 over the speed limit as was the guy a car and a half in front of me.  You know that moment where you're driving and you're not certain if the person behind you is flashing their lights at you or if it just seems like they are flashing you because of the bumps in the road?  I'm always one to give someone the benefit of the doubt, but this guy was flashing his high beams or something.  I couldn't tell if it was a truck that was behind me or what.  The vehicle's flashing lights seemed to have a slightly bluish or purple colour to it.

Whatever... I don't care.  If this truck needed to speed down the middle of the road I would let it.  I pulled aside to let the vehicle pass and what do I see?  Pauline Marois' giant, fat face on the side of an obnoxious blue bus.  Yes, you know the one, this effing thing!!


If my anger were measured on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being just annoyed, 10 being naked fury, I went from 2 to 11 in seconds. I'm not prone to road rage, but my first thought was to destroy the bus somehow.  I wanted to do this

Now I'm not going to go on a rant against Pauline Marois.  There's nothing that I can say about her that hasn't been said about Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter.  And there's nothing that can be said about her politics that hasn't been alluded to in classic science fiction novels like, '1984' or 'Farenheit 451'.  And what the hell, let's just go full out Godwin's law,she's Hitler reincarnated.  But, unless you are one of approximately 33% of Quebecers who enthusiastically support this bigoted sociopath, the threat of having this creature as our Premier has probably caused you some anxiety this last month.

We panic, even knowing that we can't realistically expect this lunatic to execute even a small portion of her ludicrous propositions, at least not in the near future.  But my biggest disappointment is in the people who support her.  Am I to believe that 1 in 3 people don't believe that citizens should be allowed to wear yamulkes or turbans to work? But they do believe it's okay to wear a cross? Am I to believe that 1 in 3 Quebecers are behind Marois' insidious plan to exclude First Nations people from holding public office with a new slew of undemocratic language laws? (More language laws?!?)  1/3 people believe this province, with all its debt, with all of its reliance on federal funds, could be its own country?

But I'll tell you what really gets me, besides all the obvious stuff like what a PQ government will mean for the economy... What gets me is that after months and months of student protests we see that even though a significant portion of the population believes that education is free, those same people do not necessarily believe that adults should be free to have that education in English ie, the international language of business and science.  Let that soak in for a while... Remember when some of the protesters came out admitting how easily they could pay their tuition, but then claimed that they were out in the streets for the sake of those who would not be able to afford it?  And remember how you probably thought to yourself, "Wow, that's obviously a load of crap!"  Well, now is your chance to call those people out!  If they care so much about others, let them protest for people's right to be educated in the language of our choice.  While they're out there, let them protest for other people's religious freedom.  Dare I suggest they protest a person's right to run their business in the language they choose, if only to keep more business from leaving this province.  Speaking of leaving the province, can someone tell me why a doctor would stick around here when this woman is about to raise taxes on higher income earners once again!

Now would have been the perfect time to become passionate about something serious, involving other people's rights because it goes without saying that Pauline Marois plattform has at its core, an appeal to people's fears and prejudices, she doesn't even bother to hide it.  If there are people out there who care about the rights of others we should be hearing from them right aboooouuut.... now!

What?  People are still protesting tuition increases?  Oh well.  What was I saying?  Oh yeah, I won't go on a rant about Pauline Marois.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Adventures of the Amazing Coco Bongo

Do you like looking at pictures and videos of other people's vacations while being told long, meandering anecdotes?  Perhaps you are curious to see pictures of me without a shirt.  If you fall into either category, then this is the post for you!!!  Welcome to Riviera Maya!  Where my wife and I enjoyed a beautiful honeymoon!  Join us for all the adventure and romance as I highlight a few of the trips... ummm... highlights.  The first thing we saw in Mexico was an add for 'Coco Bongo'.  We didn't know what 'Coco Bongo' was at the time, but throughout our vacation we would see that the adds for  it were always accompanied by a picture of Spider-man.  Sadly, this is the most significant cultural impact that Mexico had on our lives; to this day we still call Spider-man 'the Amazing Coco Bongo'.

If that story doesn't whet your appetite for adventure, certainly tales of the legendary Chichen Itza will enthrall your imagination.  Chichen Itza was once a very important spiritual site in the Yucatan Penninsula.  They had an astonishing mastery of mathematics that they applied to the design of many of the temples in the area.  There was a ball court where teams played against each other to decide whether or not the Gods would favour them that year.  The acoustics in that place were such that everyone would be able to hear the chieftain speak wherever they were in the football sized field.

The Temple of Warriors
Mayan Obersvatory

According to our tour guide, Mayans from all over the Penninsula would come to see the temple in Chichen Itza during the summer solstice.  The mathematically inclined Mayans designed the temple so that during the summer solstice, the sunlight hitting the dark side of the temple would give the appearance of the snake god Kukulcan slithering down the side of it.

File:Chichen Itza Temple of Kukulcan Serpent.JPG
Kukulcan coming to visit
Here is a picture of a cenote not far from the ruins at Chichen Itza. The water was cold and teaming with catfish.  It was not a pleasant swim but one of those things I told myself I would do regardless.  I think it's a feather in my cap, don't you?

"Can you see me??? I'm swimming in the cenote?!"
The adventure continued as my wife and I braved the coral reef off the coast of Cancun.  If you do go to the area I would highly recommend the Aqua World Jungle Tour.  They give you a boat and you drive out to the reef at what I consider death defying high speed.  Now that's adventure!  You can tell because I'm wearing my adventurer hat.  Of course I drive my boats the way I drive my cars:  Like a 70 year old man who's not too sure where he's going.  Afterall, I saw no reason to go careening through the jungle like I'm the Amazing Coco Bongo or something!  Safety first!
I'm on a boat!

The reef itself is beautiful.  When you get there, you jump off the boat suit up with flippers and snorkling gear and go for a nice swim in the ocean.  We were able to take some pictures underwater with a newly purchased camera.  Yes, the camera can be submerged in the ocean.  Welcome to the future, my friends.  Look at the fish!  Look at the squids!  Look at various people's rear ends!

The resort itself was beautiful.  We stayed at the Excellence Riviera Cancun Resort.  They made the room all fancy for our honeymoon.  There were swans made of towels, rose petals and a bottle of champagne! Romantic?  I think so!

The vacation reached a turning point when I had trouble deciding whether or not to order ribs or filet mignon for supper.  So I ordered both! This became a trend, possibly a very unhealthy one
 as I ordered every meal with a side of steak : ribs and steak, lobster and steak and of course shrimp and mahi mahi .... and steak!

I didn't have steak for breakfast though a decision that was probably much appreciated by my arteries. Mornings at the resort usually involved staying in bed watching cartoons and ordering room service.  I discovered a new Looney Toons cartoon as well as my new favourite cartoon, Adventure Time!

Watching cartoons in the hotel room.

 There were activities and shows at the resort.  There was a Michael Jackson band, Madonna impersonator.  A few times after dinner we would walk outside to see fire jugglers in the main plaza.

I hope my wife didn't notice me checking out the hot girls.

It didn't seem terribly safe.  I kept imagining one of their flaming nunchucks flying into the crowd or one of their fiery staffs getting someone in the face.  After all, they did drop their flaming accoutrements more than once.  Of course, any country that would let me drive a boat without a license can't be too preoccupied with people's safety.  Good times. 

The keen adventurers that we were we thought we had earned some downtime at the resort.  Taking strolls, talking to our friend Sanchez the Iguana.  It was all a very relaxing experience and was much appreciated. 
The wife looking mighty fine!
Romantic Dinner

Me doing an impersonation of the Amazing Coco Bongo
Chilling in the pool

 Drinks were on the house and off the hizzy!!!  One of the pools had a swim up bar. And you know how I like the hard stuff :  Pink and red stuff... Stuff with the word 'virgin' in it.  Yes, I got very krunk.

 It was hard to leave and go back to the realities of work and cooking for ourselves.  But we soothed ourselves by appropriating a few souvenirs from the hotel room.  Best vacation ever!  Would be nice to go back some day.

Time to go!!!  Let go of that post!!!

Here's a bright idea.  Let's steal the lamp.!

I don't know if this will fit in my bag.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Second Annual Gregg Wedding

It's been a long time since I've posted on the ol' blog, and what better memory to have on the ol' blog than my wedding day!  Technically, it wasn't our wedding but our vow renewal which was an opportunity for my wife and I to celebrate our marriage with friends and family.

We were blessed with good weather and most of the details seemed to have been taken care of (mostly by my dear wife) but the morning of I was stressed.  I can't say exactly why, but I felt it.  And so the morning of the ceremony I bombarded my wife with questions before she left for the hair stylist.  "Did you remember your garter?  Did you remember your corset?  Did you bring a snack?  Do you have your shoes?  Do you have your flowers?" 

My beautiful wife and her lovely bridesmaids, Soyeon, Natalie and Claudia.

She had not forgotten anything.  In fact her and the bridesmaids had their affairs very much in order that morning.  I as the groom, only had a few things to remember myself, most importantly my tux which I brought over to the Kim Chiaw residence, while Justin, Pat and his wife Mel watched me stress out for a while before the wedding.  We went to the church, had a snack.  Everything was going smoothly and the ceremony was in less than half an hour.  All I had to do was get dressed.  I opened up my garment bag and my jaw dropped.  "Guys, you won't believe this."

My groomsmen looked at me and reluctantly asked.  "What?"

"I forgot my pants!"

There was very little left to say after this.  Justin and I jumped into his car, Dukes of Hazard, style and made the trip from the church (in Westmount) back to my place (in Brossard).  Who knew Justin had mad driving skills?  He drove that white Hyundai Elantra (adorned with ribbons) like it was the Batmobile.  With my cousin Chad on the phone giving us a breakdown of what traffic was like in the city that day, and Justin attaining speeds one might not have considered reasonable for the vehicle, all my stress dissolved.  It was a kind of an epiphany.  If I could do something as stupid as forget my pants and the world didn't come to an end, perhaps the rest of the day would be okay.
The groomsmen had my back! Pat, Chad and Justin FTW!

Considering the traffic caused by an accident that morning, and pervasive roadwork throughout Montreal, the trip from church, to my house and back was made in miraculous time and the wedding began only 15 minutes late.  I don't consider myself an overly emotional person.  My feelings normally range from feelings of hunger, to feelings of tiredness.  But when I saw my wife coming down the aisle... well... I wasn't hungry.  Or even itchy.  It was something else.  I was in love and stunned by how beautiful she looked!  One of the most overwhelming feelings I've ever had.  And knowing that when she looked back down the aisle she would see a man, not just any man, but a man with a pair of pants made it that much sweeter.

"Does she know that I forgot my pants?"
And so the rest of the day was just beautiful.  We took photos downtown, the reception was a mixture of good food, good music, dancing and of course an impromptu lightsaber duel.

I'm reluctant to name names out of fear of leaving out some of the people who made it the amazing day that it was, but the support of friends and family was simply overwhelming. It goes without saying that the wedding party was awesome.  Thanks to wedding veterans Pat and Mel for helping us with so many of the details and taking the great pics I put in this blog post (while we wait for the photographer to touch up some more).  Thanks to Julie and Yeusung for managing decorations and seating at the restaurant!  Thanks Cris and Yeusung for reading.  Thanks B and Viv for the slideshow!  Thanks to my cousins Sean and Duane for showing everyone such a good time at the reception, best MC and DJ ever!  Thanks to Charlene for the beautiful song and the delicious cake!  Thanks to the photographers, Juan, Jessica and Ming! Thanks to Pastor Chris for the wonderful sermon!  Thanks to our parents for love and support!  God blessed my wife and I with good people in our life and an opportunity to celebrate with them. My prevailing feeling for the day was one of immense gratitude. So this is a big thank you to all who were a part of that day both physically present and present in spirit.  You don't know how much it was appreciated. 

The gang!!
Looking sassy with cigars!
Looking cool in downtown Montreal

The fam!!