Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sinister 7

Sometime around this past Christmas, I got a text from my sister Mary asking me to do her a huge favor.  I asked her what the favor was, and her only response was "Are you in?"  By this point, I was pretty sure what she was asking me to do.  She and her husband Greg are pretty hardcore runners, and they will sometimes enter long distance relay races and ask family members to join them.  This wasn't the first time she had asked me, but I had never agreed.  This time, she was trying to get me to commit before I knew exactly what I was committing to, and even though I saw through her ruse, I agreed.  She e-mailed me a link to this website, and informed me that I'd be running the seventh and final leg of a 100-mile race through the Rocky Mountains in the Crowsnest Pass area of southern Alberta.  So after half a year of getting my fat butt out running, and after shedding 20 pounds (my goal is 50 pounds, but I sure do love fattening food), we met in Coleman, AB this weekend and ran the race.  The team breakdown was this:

Leg 1: Noah Heninger (my cousin)
Leg 2: Curtis Woolf (my brother-in-law)
Leg 3: Mary Bourne (my sister)
Leg 4 & 5: Sara MacKenzie (my sister and team captain)
Leg 6: Greg Bourne (my brother-in-law)
Leg 7: Mike MacKenzie (my self)

Along as support were my sister Amy (Curtis' wife) and Mike Lush (Sara's boyfriend).  Avril and my kids showed up Saturday afternoon.  This was the first race for three of us (me, Noah, and Curtis), and a lot of people were shocked to find out that we chose the Sinister 7 to be our first.  It isn't called "sinister" for nothing.

Noah and I stayed where, until recently, my in-laws had a cabin, but they had just torn it down, so we slept in a tent trailer.
Me and Noah at Lee Lake
Noah started in Blairmore (just down the road from Coleman) at 7:00 Saturday morning.  Leg 1 (the Frank Slide) was 16.5 km.
The Ramblers at the start line in Blairmore.
The road to the transition area between leg 1 and leg 2 was treacherous, so we weren't allowed to drive up there to meet Noah at the end of his leg.  Curtis was bused up since he had to run leg 2, so it was up to him to greet Noah after Noah finished leg 1 in the impressive time of 1 hour and 50 minutes.  Then Noah got on the bus and met us down at the base of ski hill in Blairmore where we waited for Curtis to arrive at the end of his leg.

Noah getting off the bus after his run
Leg 2 (Hastings Ridge) saw Curtis running 16 km, but with higher climbs than leg 1.  He had an elevation gain of 937 meters and then an elevation loss of 1100 meters.  He powered through it and we cheered him in to the transition area.
Curtis finishes his leg.  (Those are folded-up hiking poles he's holding. A lot of people used them.)
Mary was the first of the experienced runners to head out.
Mary heads out
Leg 3 (Willoughby Ridge) was 35 km with an elevation gain (and then loss) of 1327 meters, and it had a difficulty rating of 6 out of 7.  It took a few hours, and a close encounter with a grizzly bear (nobody was hurt, thankfully), but Mary headed into the transition area at the end with a big smile on her face.
Mary finishes.  (Sorry about my finger)
Sara's reaction when told about the bear
There were seven legs, but we only had six runners, so Sara volunteered to run two legs, starting with leg 4 (Saddle Mountain), which was 17 km.  We drove out to the transition area between legs 4 and 5 to cheer her on, where she changed into a new pair of shoes and socks (the first pairs were wet and muddy) and to have her blisters tended by Mike Lush.  After the change of shoes, she set out on leg 5 (Mount Tecumseh), which was 29.6 km.  A good deal of this leg was run at night.  She finished at 1:00 in the morning while I was sound asleep resting up for my turn.
Sara after she was done.
Once Sara was finished, Greg set out on the hardest single leg of the course.  Leg 6 (Crowsnest & Seven Sisters) was 36.2 km, and had Greg running around the Seven Sisters and Crowsnest Mountains.
Greg and the mountains he ran around.
Five hours after he started, shortly after sunrise, we met Greg at the final transition area.  He had a great run and was all smiles as he finished.

So with everyone else finished, it was my turn to head out on the final leg.  Leg 7 (Wedge Mountain) was the shortest leg (10.7 km), but not the easiest.  It was rated 2 out of 7, and it started with a steep 390 meter climb.  It was rough.  I huffed and puffed all the way up, and my legs burned, but I knew that if I stopped to rest, I wouldn't be able to start moving again, so I kept hiking up the trail (one thing I learned about trail running is that there's a lot of walking involved).
There's a lot of mouth breathing involved, too
After a little while on that wide path, I veered off onto a narrow path that just kept going up and up.  I've been out of breath on runs a lot since I started training for this, but I had never heard my heart pounding in my ears the way I could on the way up.  Eventually, I reached the highest point of leg 7, where I had been instructed by Sara to take a selfie.
"Gotta hurry up and take this before I die."
That's the town of Coleman in the distance, which is where the finish line was.
Then it was time to start down, which turned out to be almost as hard as going up.  The ascent was hard on my lungs; the descent was hard on my legs.  It took a lot of strength to keep my control and not just fall all the way down the mountain.
The downward path
I don't have any pictures of it, but the steepest downhill section was a narrow path through the trees, and I slid most of the way down this stretch on my butt, using my hands slow myself by grabbing trees as they went by.  I got to the bottom and looked back up only to see three more people coming down the same way I did.  "Beats coming down on your face" one woman said to me.

The rest of the run took me through beautiful mountain forests, through a creek, down more hills, and eventually into Coleman.  The majority of the running I was actually able to achieve was in town, but the running in town was easier than the walking I did on the mountain.  Finally, I rounded a corner and saw the finish line.  I finished my leg in 2 hours and 10 minutes, and celebrated with my team and my family.
Nearing the finish line

The Ramblers with our Sinister 7 medals
Going in for a hug from Avril

Hugging my kids
I had a great time, and I plan on doing more runs in the future.  I want to drop those other 30 pounds I planned on losing, and the feeling I had when finishing the run is one I want to experience again.  Thanks, Mary, for making me do this.

And here are a few more random photos of the weekend:

Noah and I came across a turtle near our campsite

Waiting for the race to start

Another view of the Seven Sister and Crowsnest Mountains

Dad waiting for Sara to finish leg 4

Sara (in blue) finishing leg 4

Me and Mary waiting for Greg

An actual flat section (it's blurry because I was moving when I took the photo)

Another open-mouth selfie. This section of the trail reminded me of Skyrim.

Me with my medal and horrible hat hair

Noah and I taking our phones for a hike

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mike Mix 2013

Well, it's a few weeks late, but Mike Mix 2013 is finally compiled.  I usually link to videos of each song, but I'm feeling fancy today, and I'll actually embed them in the article.

1. "Don't Count on the Wicked" by Billy Talent



Billy Talent are no strangers to Mike Mixes.  (That isn't a subject/verb grammatical mistake; Billy Talent is the name of the band, not a single person.)  In fact, 2013 marks the ten-year anniversary of Billy Talent's debut album and subsequent debut in Mike Mix 2003.  I still like their first album the best.  Dead Silence is their fourth album (and first with an actual title, breaking tradition of Billy Talent, Billy Talent II, and Billy Talent III), and I think it's their strongest since that first album.  It scratches my itch for heavy alternative music that doesn't manifest itself as often as it did in my teens and twenties.

2. "Crystallize" by Lindsey Stirling



This is technically breaking the MiKenzie Inc. rules for Mike Mix compilations, as Mike Mix 2012 included "Transcendence", which is from the same album as "Crystallize."  Here's the thing, though.  Last year, I just bought "Transcendence" on its own.  Later, in 2013, Avril bought a bunch of other Lindsey Stirling songs, so I count them separately.  Lindsey has had a pretty big year, too, so kudos to her.  Yay for Mormons!  (She's not the only one to make it this year.)

3. "How" by The Neighbourhood



Here's a first.  The Neighbourhood is in the R&B category of iTunes.  I didn't know that when I bought this album.  I'm not known for my fondness of R&B.  This isn't typical R&B, though.  This is one of the rare physical albums that I bought on CD in 2013.  I don't like it as much as I did that day I listened to it in HMV, but it's still pretty good, especially when I'm craving something different than my usual fare of alternative rock and mellow adult alternative.

4. "Holes" by Passenger



This is the single version of the song.  The album version, which is what made it to Mike Mix, is a little different.  This video sensors out the "motherf-__er," though, so you're welcome, I guess.  I bought this album at the same time that I bought The Neighbourhood, and it's much more in line with my usual taste in music.  As you can tell from his voice, I'm sure, he's not from North America.  He's British.

5. "Coffee Girl" by The Tragically Hip



The Tragically Hip used to be one of my favourite bands, especially in the early '00s.  I stopped following them as time went on.  This song is actually from 2009, but I never bought the album it comes from.  I heard it on the radio a few months ago and decided to buy it off of iTunes.  And now here it is on a Mike Mix.  It's been almost a decade since the Hip made an appearance on one of these things.

6. "Reflecktor" by Arcade Fire



Another Canadian band.  Arcade Fire came out with a new album in 2013, and I bought the physical (double) CD.  This is the best song off of the album, and probably the most commercially accessible one.  For reasons I won't go into detail over, this album will always remind me of hemorrhoids.

7. "Guns of Carolina" by Matthew Good



Despite being my favourite solo musician, Matt Good always seems to surprise me with his new albums.  As in, one day, I'll just stumble across his new album after it has already come out.  This is the fourth of the four physical CDs I bought this year.  I'm a huge Matt Good fan.  Weezer, my long-time favourite band,  exemplifies the music of my youth.  Matt Good exemplifies the music of my adulthood.  (This Mike Mix is nicely heavy on the Canadian content, I'm just noticing.)

8. "Ways To Go" by Grouplove



If you only watch one of the videos I'm posting here, watch this one.  It's a nice homage to Kim Jong-Un.  This song was introduced to me by Noah, who was a big influence on Mike Mixes when I was a single adult.  It's a good, catchy, alternative song with a bit of electronica in it for good measure.

9. "Wild Country" by Wake Owl



This is the mellowest song on this year's mix.  I don't know much about Wake Owl.  I discovered them listening to the indie station on Grooveshark.  It's a very pretty song.  Hauntingly beautiful, even.

10. "Wake Me Up" by Avicii



I just noticed that I have three songs in a row that start with W.  This song is quite different than what I usually listen to.  The story of how I found out about it is kind of funny in a "Mike's a nerd" sort of way.  This year, Avril and I started playing a D&D-esque tabletop RPG called Pathfinder with our friends, Jared and Susan Aldridge.  One of the other players (Susan's brother) used a character that he named Avicii, and he explained to me that it's the name of a DJ that he likes.  So I looked him up, and decided that this is a cool song.

11. "Sail" by AWOLNATION



I forget where I first heard this song.  I'm pretty sure it was in a YouTube video, but I forget which one.  Oh well.  I was reminded of it today when I was looking at iTune's top ten most popular alternative songs, so I bought it.  True story, I swear.

12. "Pompeii" by Bastille



I had no idea who Bastille was before an hour ago, but now I want their entire album.  Another discovery from iTune's top ten alternative songs.  I sampled the whole album, and it was all good, but I chose this one because it was the first one I heard.

13. "Only the Young" by Brandon Flowers



More Mormon music.  You may recognize Brandon Flowers as the lead singer of The Killers.  This is from his 2010 solo album, Flamingo.  Noah pointed this song out to me, so that's two for this mix.  Well, actually, he pointed it out to Jake, but I overheard it on Facebook.

14. "Recover" by CHVRCHES



This is another band I hadn't heard of before today.  I needed some more music, so I googled "best indie music 2013" and this was one of the results.  CHVRCHES kind of reminds me of Purity Ring, who appeared on either Mike Mix 2011 or 2012.  I can't be bothered to go back and check.  This one is a little more upbeat and catchy than Fineshrine.

15. "I've Got Your Fire" by Jenn Grant



For a while there I was driving my in-law's '98 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which didn't have a CD player or functional tape deck, so I could only listen to the radio.  Lethbridge radio sucks, so I only ever listened to CBC radio.  That's where I heard this song.  It's not the greatest song, but I like singing along to the "Oooo-oo-oooo"s.

16. "Say Something" by A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera



What?!?!  Christina Aguilera on a Mike Mix?!  What is this?!  What's happening?!  I know, I know.  I never thought it would happen, yet here we are.  To be fair to myself and my musical sensibilities, this isn't a Christina Aguilera song.  It's a Great Big World song, featuring Christina Aguilera.  I came close to buying the version of the song without Christina, but that harmony is just too pretty to pass up.  I'm a sucker for male/female harmony.  I know this is a popular song--it was number one on iTune's regular page, not the alternative page--but I had never heard of this song before today.

17. "Here With Me" by The Killers



Mormon song #3.  Haven't had enough Brandon Flowers yet?  Have a song by The Killers!  The Killers are no strangers to Mike Mix Productions, but it has been a while.  And that's all I have to say about that, I guess.  Next!

18. "Paris" by Magic Man



This is another song I found from my google search of 2013 indie music.  I don't really have all that much to say about it, because I know next to nothing about Magic Man.  Very catchy, upbeat song.

19. "Dubstep Solves Everything 3" by Jack Douglass



You should watch this video, too.  I've been a fan of Jack Douglass for a while, mostly because of his Your Grammar Sucks videos, but the first video I ever saw of his was the original Dubstep Solves Everything, which is hilarious.  Dubstep Solves Everything 2 was disappointing, but he hit it out of the park with Dubstep Solves Everything 3, thanks to a little help from Autotune Jesus.

So there you have it.  Mike Mix 2013.  19 tracks this year, so consider yourselves lucky.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Spoiler-tastic Man of Steel Review

Henry Cavill as Superman
A little background info on myself, just so you know where I'm coming from with this article.  I'm a life-long Superman fan.  I was born in the spring of 1978, and Superman: The Movie was released in the winter of the same year.  My introduction to the character of Superman was Christopher Reeve's portrayal, which is the same for most people of my generation.  I have idolized Superman for as long as I can remember.  In 1986, my grandmother bought me a comic book.  It was Man of Steel #1 by John Byrne, the first issue in a miniseries that relaunched the Superman mythos in the comic books after DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths event, which was made to streamline the decades of convoluted storylines.  It was this version of Superman, created by Byrne and later led by Dan Jurgens, to which I became a loyal fan.  I love most incarnations of Superman, but the Byrne/Jurgens era is the one I followed the most closely throughout my teens and early 20s.

Why do I feel the need to fill in that background?  Man of Steel has been getting mixed reviews.  People either love it or hate it.  There aren't a lot of people with mediocre opinions on the film.  I'm in the camp of people who love it, and one of the reasons I love it is because of my background as a Superman fan.  As much as I loved the Donner Superman movies, I have never considered them canon.  I'm a lot more open to other interpretations of Superman.  People going into this movie expecting something like the Donner films or like the golden and silver age comic book Superman are going to be disappointed.  This is Zac Snyder's Superman, with some influence from producer Christopher Nolan of the Dark Knight fame.

Now, on with the review.  It's more of my thoughts on the film than a technical review.  I already said that I love the film.  On Facebook, right after watching it I said that it's the Superman movie I've been waiting for since I was a teenager.  To elaborate on that, I've wanted a Superman movie with a lot of action.  Like Death of Superman levels of action.  The special effects in the late '70s and early '80s weren't at a level that could handle an action-packed Superman.  Watching the action in Man of Steel was like seeing scenes I wrote in my Stormy Logan stories acted out the way I saw them in my head, and it was a very exhilarating moment for me.  Even the scene of Superman learning to fly for the first time reminded me of a Stormy Logan moment.

MAJOR SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON.  YOU ARE WARNED.

Some of my thoughts

1. Superman killed Zod.  Most of the major superheroes have a strict no-killing policy.  Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and the like.  And yet here is Superman snapping General Zods neck at the climax of Man of Steel.  What is this, a Wolverine movie?  Well, I have some news for you:
Superman #22 (October 1988)
That's Superman killing General Zod, Quex-Ul, and Zaora.  The three of of them had devasted the Earth of an alternate universe (which is why the kryptonite isn't affecting Superman), and Superman determined that the only way to stop them was to kill them.  The act almost broke him mentally and emotionally, and it haunted him for years.  I found it to be one of the more interesting aspects of Superman's character.  So when Superman snapped Zod's neck in this new movie, I was fine with it.  This was the Superman I was familiar with, and I hope the subsequent movies deal with the emotional pain of having taken a life.

2. Too much action.  Yeah, I didn't have a problem with this like some other people do.  Like I said, it's what I've been wanting for decades.

3. Flashbacks.  I've heard some people complain about young Clark's life in Smallville being shown in flashbacks.  Personally, I found it to be a very effective story-telling technique.  With the first Superman movie back in '78, Richard Donner masterfully told the origin story in chronological order, and it worked great for that film.  But Superman: The Movie wasn't an action film.  To have that much of a slow pace for so long at the beginning of Man of Steel, modern film audiences would have grown bored.  People weren't complaining when Christopher Nolan did this with Batman Begins, so I don't know why they're complaining about it with Man of Steel.  We didn't need a long drawn-out portion of the movie dedicated to Clark's childhood and adolescence.  We had ten seasons of Smallville on TV.

4. Act I on Krypton.  The opening segment of the movie taking place on Krpyton was awesome.  I could have watched an entire movie about that.  (There's actually a novel by Kevin J. Anderson called The Last Days of Krypton that I recommend to any hardcore Superman fans.)  Russell Crowe did a great job as Jor-El, and it was a refreshingly different take on the look of Krypton.  I appreciated the fact that Kryptonians didn't naturally give birth to their children.  This was a nice nod to John Byrne's version of Krypton.

5. Johnathon Kent.  I've heard some people mention how wooden Kevin Costner was as Clark's adopted father, but I'm pretty sure he did that on purpose.  He perfectly nailed the conservative, old-fashioned, quiet farmer.  I wasn't crazy about how he died, though.

6. Lois knows Superman is Clark from the beginning.  I like that Lois finds out who Superman is before Superman even goes public.  For one thing, she's a smart investigative reporter.  The fact that she took so long to figure out who he is in other incarnations isn't believable.  The playfulness of Clark's double life in relation to Lois has also been done to death.  We don't need to see more of it.  My Superman has been married to Lois since the '90s, so let's just go ahead and move that relationship along.  I just wish she didn't run around calling Superman "Clark" in front of the Smallville police.

And that's how I felt about Man of Steel.  Is it a Superman movie for everyone?  No.  Is it a Superman movie for me?  Yes.  I can't wait for a sequel.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Small-Town Drivers

I've been saying for years that the city of Lethbridge has some of the worst drivers in North America.  People who don't have significant hours of driving in Lethbridge under their belts don't believe me.  They see its relative small size for a city (89,000 people) and figure that larger cities have it far worse.  Larger cities have huge volumes of traffic that cause a lot of problems by sheer virtue of numbers, but I'm convinced that, per capita, Lethbridge has far more stupid drivers than larger Albertan cities like Edmonton and Calgary.  The reason for this is threefold:

1)  As a retirement town, Lethbridge has a large number of seniors.  It's the higher end of these seniors -- 75 + -- that are the problem.  I'm sorry, I love seniors (outside of work), but as people get older, their vision, hearing, and reflexes deteriorate to the point that it's scary to be on the road with them.

2)  Lethbridge has a university and a college, so for two thirds of the year, young reckless college-aged kids are rocketing around the roads, weaving in-and-out of traffic.  I admit, I used to be one of them.

3)  There are a lot of farms and small towns in the Lethbridge area, and people from these more rural areas come to Lethbridge in droves every day for shopping or other reasons.  A lot of people who have spent the bulk of their lives in small towns and on farms are terrible drivers.

This article is going to focus on small-town drivers.  For the past four years, I have lived in the town of Picture Butte (1700 people).  It's right in the middle of Alberta's cattle country, and we're surrounded by a lot of large ranches and wheat farms.  I could go on at length listing all of my personal experiences with awful Picture Buttian (Buttite?  Butte-head?) drivers, not to mention the legless old man who thinks his electric wheel chair is a car, but I'm going to talk about one instance, which happened this afternoon.

Nobody from Picture Butte knows how a four-way stop works.  (I'm not from Picture Butte; I just live there.)  This intersection in particular is the bane of my existence:
7th Street (north-south) and Crescent Avenue (southwest-northeast)
Just looking at that makes me want to start a rant about how the town should have set itself up as a nice, neat grid instead of haphazardly throwing roads together at weird angles, but I'll control myself.  This intersection is controlled by a four-way stop.  It's busy by Picture Butte standards, especially when school starts in the morning and ends in the afternoon, since there are two elementary schools nearby -- one Catholic and one public.  Nine times out of ten, I'm angry at someone when I get there.  Nobody seems to understand that the first car to stop is the first car to go, regardless of the direction it's going.  Here's the set-up for situation this afternoon:
Zoom in for a better look.  I'm the Mazda 5 (labelled 2).  The other two are represented by Ford F150s, because this is Alberta.
The numbers represent the order that each of us arrived at the intersection.  #1, directly opposite me, arrived first and signaled to turn left (north) onto 7th Street.  Then I arrived and signaled to turn right (also north) onto 7th Street.  Lastly, #3 arrived, and she was going straight (north again) up 7th.  What should have happened was this: #1 turns left, followed be me turning right, and then #3 following me.  Instead, we sat there staring at each other for a moment.  Then #1 waved me to turn.  This happens a lot at this intersection. The person turning left has the right-of-way, but since they see that I'm signaling to turn right, they think I have the right-of-way, and they wave me through the intersection.  I hate that.  I'm always sure that a cop will see and give me a ticket.  So this afternoon, I shook my head and waved driver #1 through the intersection.  She made her left turn, and then I started to make my right turn.  I had to slam on the brakes partway through, though, because driver #3 came straight through the intersection even though she was clearly the last one to get there.

Anyway.  The main reason for this entry is because I wanted to play around with the Paint.net photo editing software.  Photoshop is so much better.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Stand-up Comedians That Don't Suck

As a general rule, I hate stand-up comedians.  They're terrible people complaining about their terrible relationships and making observations that only serve to display their own stupidity.  The relationship stand-up comedian is by far the worst, both men and women.  They complain about the annoying things their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife do, but the only thing I hear is, "I'm a terrible person, and I'm blaming it on someone else."  There are also comedians who have a character that they put on display, and the character itself is meant to be as funny as any of the jokes.  Sometimes the character is nothing more than a funny voice that the comic uses.  Bobcat Goldtwait and Mitch Hedberg are two that come to mind.  Mitch Hedberg I find especially annoying because the Internet as a whole worships him as a god.  I suppose that should be expected, since he's basically Philosoraptor with an annoying voice.


Also, Mitch Hedberg is dead.  Has been since 2005.  I just learned that now as I researched him for this blog entry.  I guess that's why it's been a while since I saw him on Just For Laughs.

Despite everything I just said, there are a handful of comedians that I find hilarious.  Here they are:

Louis CK

I just finished telling you about how I hate comedians who complain about relationships.  Louis CK is an exception for three reasons.  First of all, he doesn't just talk about relationships.  He also makes commentary on modern society that's pretty damn funny.  Second of all, he fully accepts that his bad relationships are at least partially his fault.  And third, after he and his wife divorced, he stopped talking about how horrible his marriage was as often.  But even when he was talking about how awful marriage and home life was, I still found it funny, even though I couldn't personally relate.  I think it's because I sometimes see the man I easily could have been.

Louie's social commentary is his strength, in my opinion.  Let me see if I can find some good clips.






I picked a video with Russian (?) subtitles because I know a large percentage of my followers are former KGB officials who fled Moscow after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Jimmy Carr

Jimmy Carr is an Irish-born British comedian who I just recently gained an appreciation for, and is actually the inspiration for this post.  I've known about him for a while, but I never paid a lot of attention until YouTube kept recommending that I watch some of his videos.  In the past, I've always brushed him off as very dry and stuck-up, but as I watched his videos in the last few days, I've come to realize that, while he often uses snottiness as a comedic device, he isn't dry at all.  Oh, he can use a deadpan delivery with the best of them, but I wouldn't call him dry, and he isn't always deadpan.  In fact, a lot of his jokes are very irreverent.  I would say that his specialty is the surprise punchline.  He'll be setting up a joke, and it'll end either sooner than you were expecting, or in a place that you weren't expecting.  He also has some of the best audience interactions I've seen from a stand-up.

(This is titled "The Nasty Show" for a reason.  It's all of his dirtiest jokes.)



In this clip, he actually invites questions from the audience.  In effect, he's inviting hecklers:




Patton Oswalt

The first I ever heard of Patton Oswalt was actually in the Pixar movie Ratatouille.  He did the voice of the main character, Remy the rat.  His stand-up is absolutely nothing like his performance in Rataouille.  His target audience is not at all the same as Disney's.

Patton is basically the king of the nerds.  He's a Generation X'er who loves Star Wars and comic books.  He talks a lot about pop culture, which I enjoy.  He's also clinically depressed and an atheist, which feature prominently in his stand-up.  The thing I love about his act is that he has such a passion and energy for his material, and his view points on them are very unique.



John Mulaney

John Mulaney is a young, small, harmless looking man who can tell an anecdote like nobody else can.  He's a writer for Satuday Night Live, and his stand-up routine is hilarious.  It's mostly just him telling stories about his own life, and he always cracks me up.  Sometimes he'll tell a joke, and then later in his act tell another joke that only makes sense if you remember the first joke.  For example, he equated his parents hiring a 13-year-old to babysit him when he was 10 to hiring a horse to look after your dog.  Much later in his hour-long act, he was telling another story about a party that got out of hand in high school.  He said that the kids at the party were "like a bunch of dogs without any horses."  It's like he's rewarding people for paying close attention.

My favourite story by far his story about going to the doctor for a Xanax prescription.  I apologize for the quality of this video, but it's the best I could find on YouTube:


This one has better video quality, but the audio isn't synced properly.  I'm such a failure.






Sunday, February 10, 2013

Michael MacKenzies

My name is quite common.  No, not hyperferrianism.  That's a word that I made up.  I'm talking about my actual name, Michael MacKenzie.  My oldest sister Jennifer once said that my parents chose the names of their children by walking around the hospital asking the other parents what they were naming their kids, and then chose the most common answer.  Despite how common it is, I love my name.

I think pretty much everyone has googled their own name at least once since the advent of the Internet.  Googling my name yields many various results.  I even have some Mike MacKenzie websites.  Observe:

mikemackenzie.ca
It's like looking in the mirror
This Mike MacKenzie is a Canadian musician based out of Calgary.  Click here to hear some of his music.  His musical influences are a who's who of classic rock bands that I hate.


Enigmatic.


This is the website for attorney G. Michael MacKenzie.  Yes, Michael is this guy's middle name, but it's the name he goes by.  He does real estate law and estate planning in Dunedin, Florida.  Exciting!  I like this blurb from his homepage: "Attorney G. Michael Mackenzie, (frequently referred to as Mike Mackenzie or Michael Mackenzie) has been the victim of identity theft. If you have been contacted on an unsolicited basis by someone claiming to be attorney Mike Mackenzie or Michael Mackenzie, particularly if it involves the sale or purchase of a time-share, and have any reason to doubt such person's identity, please contact Michael Mackenzie directly"

There's a mikemackenzie.com, too, but it asks for a password in order to access it.  I'm dying to know what it is.

The world of Mike MacKenzies extends beyond URLs.  Doing a search for "Michael MacKenzie" on Wikipedia brings up this results page.  There are eight Mikes.  Here's the run-down:

Michael Valentine MacKenzie, former member of the Namibian national rugby team.

Michael MacKenzie, Canadian theatre director, film director, and screenwriter.  The two films he directed are called The Baroness and the Pig and Adam's Wall.

Mike MacKenzie, Scottish politician for the Scottish National Party.  Has a son named Michael MacKenzie Jr.


Michael McKenzie, Australian long distance freestyle swimmer.

Mike "Gunface" McKenzie, member of the American deathgrind band The Red Chord.  By far the best nickname of the bunch.

Mike McKenzie, cornerback in the NFL.  
It's like looking in the mirror.
Mike McKenzie, retired American Hockey League player and son of TSN analyst Bob McKenzie.

Michael "Macca" MacKenzie, fictional character on the Australian soap opera Home and Away.  Played by actor Trent Baines.  Beats his girlfriend.
Trent Baines as Macca MacKenzie
And now for random pictures from a Google image search for Mike MacKenzie:
@mmackenz on Twitter
Some douche on myspace
@MikeMackenzie on Twitter






Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My Early Work

I was rummaging through some old keepsakes today, and I stumbled across some books I had made in the third grade.  I'd like to share two of them with you now, because they're so awesome.  They're illustrated, which is the best part, so I scanned them for your pleasure.

The Prince Who Saved The Princess
Nothing to see here.  Carry on.
"Once upon a time there was a princess who lived with the king and queen.  One day a prince was riding by the castle and saw the princess.  He fell in love with her right away.  He went over to the princess and said, 'I love you.'  'I love you too,' said the princess.  After they fell in love they got married.

"A witch was watching this.  She was mad because she wanted to marry the prince.  So she sent her dragon to kill the princess.

"When the dragon got there he tried to kill the princess but the prince killed him.  After the prince killed him he went and killed the witch."
Notice that the prince is a good two feet taller on the back than he is on the front.  I especially like how blood is dripping off of "The" but not "end"
A very simple story.  It's kind of unrealistic how quickly the prince and princess fell in love, but that's basically how it happens in Disney cartoons, so I give 8 or 9 year old me a pass in that regard.  The real gem to this book is the cover art.  So much blood.  I literal lake of it.  If you look closely, you'll notice that fire is still spouting out of the neck stumps from the dragon's severed heads.  Nice touch, if you ask me.  Oh, and the one head growing out of the dragon's tail on the front cover?  Pure genius.  Too bad I forgot to carry that detail over to the back cover.

I can't help wondering what my teacher thought when he saw this book.  He never said anything.  I'm also curious how modern teachers would react to something like this.  I probably would've been sent to counselling.

Enemy Mind (I wrote this one shortly after seeing the movie Enemy Mine)
I was really into space in grade three.  There's a lot going on here, but I think my favourite detail is the laser shooting out of the side of the missile.
This story is quite a bit longer than TPWSTP, and there's art throughout, so I scanned the whole thing, and you can read it in the following photos.  Click on them for larger views.  Note: this is an early precursor to Admiral Mike.





 This one is actually pretty good, considering my age.  And the artwork is about on par with what I can do today.


Hyper Shoe

Hyper Shoe
A red high-heel shoe has always been hyperferrianism's avatar