Skating like a Pro

Worst quality photo ever, thanks Blackberry!

When I was a kid, I skated a lot, but lost interest around age 13 or 14. Fast forward to 2005, I was in Chicago and they had an outdoor rink and free skate rentals. Hockey skates that is. I was a little apprehensive, never having even tried on a pair of hockey skates (that’s a story for another day. Let’s just say I have a photo of myself as the Pumpkin from Cinderella somewhere that has never seen the light of day!) Getting on the ice was a bit rough. This was the only time I had skated in over 13 years. Being out of practise for such a long time was a little scary, but I knew that I must still have some skill. I spend a lot of time rollerblading in the warmer months, so I knew I could at least keep my balance. I got to the arena, laced up my skates and hit the ice. It was a little scary, seeing that the 5-year-olds zipping around the ice looked like seasoned pros. I was a little intimidated, mainly because I assumed I would fall flat on my ass the second I hit the ice. I’m glad to say I was wrong. Once I hit the ice, I also looked like a seasoned pro as I whipped around that arena. The lesson: Quiet your inner critic. If you think you can’t do it, your setting yourself up for failure. Give  yourself the benefit of the doubt that you can do the things you set your mind to. Also, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve done something, you can always jump back in if you have the right attitude. Thanks to taking this small chance, I may actually enjoy winter a little bit more this year!  Have you ever tried a hobby or sport again after many years of not being involved? What was the outcome?

Why “Terra Nova” is the best new TV show this Fall

Despite the negative outlook I had after reading about production issues, budget overruns, and schedule push backs, I must say I really liked the 2-hour premiere of Fox’s “Terra Nova“. Let’s get the brontosaurus in the room out of the way: Yes it does allude to a few other popular movies and television shows of the past, mainly “Jurassic Park“, “Avatar“, and “Lost“. Despite these comparisons, it’s a completely fresh concept that has tons of potential to entertain viewers. And from the Tweets I was following during the show, many people would agree with me. Here are a few reasons why I think “Terra Nova” is the best new show on television:

1. It sends a great message without being preachy

In “Terra Nova”, humans have almost destroyed the earth and are now transporting themselves back in time to start over. They are lucky to have technology with them, but they are basically living like early settlers. Unfortunately in the real world we don’t have the ability to time travel, yet. This show can help set a precedent of what can happen in the future and how humans with have to deal, all packaged in a slick, entertaining package. In a way like “Avatar.”

2. It’s breathtakingly beautiful

Television shows are a means of escapism for the general public, and “Terra Nova” does an amazing job of taking viewers to another world filled with lush tropical landscapes and fantastic sets. While there could be a little more work with the CGI dinosaurs, they are dealing with episodes that need to be produced on tighter deadline than movies. The show is filmed in Australia, therefore tons of eye candy to look forward to, especially if your watching in HD.

3. Mythology and storytelling are the foundation

Yes it’s bound to be compared to “Lost”, with a few plot points that are vaguely similar. The mythology that’s been planted from the first episode adds a reason for viewers to keep coming back for more and become engaged. What’s the point of a television show where everything is spelled out to the viewer upfront? The storytelling is also great, with many interesting characters that a broad base of viewers can relate to. In this day of social networking, mythology & the ability to relate are great ways for viewers to connect with each other, share and discuss. In the end building more buzz and drawing in more viewers. No one thought Lost would survive, and yet it lasted for 6 seasons because of this.

4. It’s cheesy in a fun way

The dinosaurs have nicknames like “howlers” and “slashers.” People keep getting killed left, right and centre, and Stephen Lang from “Avatar” is basically playing the same character all over again. While the show is considered a drama, this thick layer of cheese adds to the love I have for this show from the first episode.

5. No matter how hard you try, you will think of “Jurassic Park”, and that’s a good thing

Maybe it’s because Steven Spielberg is an executive producer, or simply that there are dinosaurs involved. Or maybe it’s because a few scenes and set pieces tread awfully close to similar ones in the JP films (I was hoping for electrified fences!). Regardless, the entire time I was thinking about “Jurassic Park”, how awesome it was, and how it’s great to have the same feeling about dinosaurs again as I did when I was 8 years old.

I truly believe “Terra Nova” is going to get enough viewers to stay alive. This show is very risky, especially on a network like Fox. Big budget, big sets, big dinos= big expectations. It will be interesting to see the numbers over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I’m going to pop in a DVD of “Jurassic Park”, and maybe follow it up with “Avatar” on Blu-Ray!

Memories of the CNE

Have you ever had a tradition that you loved so much as a kid, and all of a sudden as an adult wondered what happened to it? Specifically mine is the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. As kids, my dad would take us into the big city for this giant event that happens the last few weeks of summer. It’s like a giant fair with carnival rides, games, sketchy carnies and fried everything. It only happens once a year, during the strange last few weeks of summer, when your so sick of being bored, yet don’t want to go back to school. Sort of a summer purgatory. Anyways, it was always the last big thing we did. We would take the train to the grounds, get there early and plan out our day so we could get on as many rides as possible. The best part is we had unlimited ride passes and ate all the junk food we wanted, from hot dogs and candy apples slushies and fries. We would spend all day having a blast and our dad would have to drag us off the grounds because we never wanted it to end. Flash forward to today, going to The Ex is a very different experience. Not only does it seem significantly smaller with a lot less to do, its so crazy busy. I could hardly move on our visit. I asked my dad how he did this every year when we were kids. Makes me appreciate it more now that I understand it from his perspective. It’s loud, stressful and everything is so expensive (this is coming from the guy who worked in Orlando, the tourist mecca). All I could think about all day was if I hear one more carny holler at me to play their rigged whack-a-mole game I’m going to punch them. And I couldn’t help wondering which ride would malfunction this year and hurt innocent people as usual. I guess that’s the worst part of growing up, seeing things for what they really are. Instead of looking at the world through naivety of a child, you realize that what you thought was great for such a long time no longer is. Considering I’ve been had a lot of life experiences since I was a kid, my perspective has changed, and so have my feelings towards it. I’m now looking at it through a different lens, and it hasn’t changed so much as I have.

Remember Hitclips?

Does anyone else remember Hitclips? They were made by Tiger Electronics and came out in 2000 with a major push from McDonald’s and commercials with Britney Spears and N*Sync. They were little flash drive type plastic squares that you put into a small Walkman type player, and they would play a 60 second clip of that song. They were basically the precursor to MP3s and the iPod. I remember getting a few on our way to Cedar Point, because at the time they were only available in the United States. Check out the ad for them below. Doesn’t it make them look so exciting! Ultimately they just never caught on because they were expensive, weren’t full songs and also a proprietary format. Regardless they were kinda cool!