Tag Archives: Meta

A Night with the Mythbusters

The Mythbusters
Tonight, we made our way over to the newly renovated Queen Elizabeth Theatre to spend the evening with the Mythbusters. Well, thousands of others joined us, but that was okay. I’d been looking forward to this show for some time, as I’d won the tickets late last year, courtesy of miss604.
My husband is a great fan of Mythbusters and I became interested as well when Grant Imahara built a robot for The Late Late Show in 2010.


I watched with fascination when Adam Savage lay down on a bed of nails and had a cinder block smashed on his stomach. I cringed when I saw footage of his previous injuries and heard about the 40 stitches he’d had in his hand. I cheered when an audience member put on a suit of armour and got shot multiple times with paintball guns and emerged unscathed. I was thoroughly entertained.

Then, I started to think about why this show attracts so many people, especially parents and kids. I came to several conclusions. First, it makes science look cool. Blowing stuff up is chemistry. Hitting the high striker with the right amount of force and the right size hammer is physics. Other than biology class, which I enjoyed due to a morbid fascination with dissection, science was something I just tried to get through in school. I never saw it through the eyes of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. Also, Mythbusters makes you ask questions about questions. For example, “How tall is the mountain?” The Mythbusters pointed out that the answer all depends on the answers to other questions, “Where do you start measuring? From the Earth’s core? From sea level?” Making these inquiries helps propel us on journeys of discovery. Instead of sitting in the cave, we’re exploring the valley. Rather than staring at the TV screen, we’re becoming something worth watching. Finally, Hyneman told us never to underestimate the importance of play. I found this a profound and almost radical statement in a world that applauds us for crossing items off our to do lists and nods understandingly at us for our sedentary pastimes, but raises an eyebrow at any other activity that doesn’t fall into either of those two categories.

All in all, a fun and memorable evening that gave me some deeper things to think about than I expected. So now I’m off to test the myth that bodies decompose more slowly because we eat preserved foods. I’ll need two mice. One will eat only preserved foods and the other healthy food. Then, I’ll have to kill them…just kidding! Mice are cute and they scare elephants-really! The Mythbusters told me so.

Note: For those of you who have been following my contest odyssey, I will give you two quick updates:

1. I miscalculated and really did have 12 wins in 2011; I forgot my Avon prize pack for being the second quickest person to complete a word search at my sister-in-law’s bridal shower.


2. This year, I am entering contests on my own and have won two already – a 200K Canucks T-shirt from @VanCanucks and entrance to the premiere of Arctic Air, which sadly I was not able to attend.


My Review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

As some of you may remember, I originally won passes to an advance screening of The Descendents. Unfortunately, the screening filled up very quickly and I could not get in. The Georgia Straight kindly then gave me two passes to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I attended the screening last night.

I’d like to preface my review of the film by saying that I have obviously been living under a rock and did not know anything about this movie before last night. So, I went in not knowing about the novels or the Swedish films. Upon watching the opening credit sequence, I was prepared to watch something similar to a James Bond movie. The images presented were like something out of Goldfinger interpreted by someone who had seen The Matrix. Yet, I was in for a shock when I quickly realized that I was watching something far edgier and deeper than a Bond movie.

The basic plot involves disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) investigating a 40-year-old crime. He is asked to find out what happened to Harriet, a 16-year-old girl who disappeared from an island inhabited by the most dysfunctional family you are ever likely to meet. His assistant on the case is Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara) who has considerable issues of her own. There is also a secondary plot involving Blomkvist and the source of his disgrace: a conviction for libel.

This movie is very, very graphic in its depictions of violence, particularly violence against women. The title of the original novelMän som hatar kvinnor – Men Who Hate Women, prepares the audience for this. The dark, misogynistic world these characters inhabit is a difficult one to watch. I was certainly not the only one cringing during the screening of the film. However, the main story is a compelling mystery and the character of Lisbeth Salander is incredibly complex. At times, she is an avenging angel. At other moments, a skilled and brilliant investigator. I found myself feeling sympathy for her throughout the film, too. She yearns for love and compassion, but is understandably reluctant to open herself up to it.

I was glued to the screen whenever the main, mystery story was in progress and when Salander’s life away from the case was being presented. The libel subplot was not as compelling and I felt that the way the movie was bookended with it was unnecessary. Without giving anything away, it seemed that the movie had come to a natural conclusion long before the actual conclusion was shown. I would recommend The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with the following advisory:

If you are looking for a heart-warming, Christmasy story – go see Hugo; it’s great! The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo lives up to its tagline: “It’s the feel bad movie of Christmas.”

My Review of The Far Country and The Man from Laramie

On June 30th, my husband and I went to a double bill of The Far Country and The Man From Laramie at the Pacific Cinémathèque.  Before I present my review of the films, I’d like to pay a brief homage to the cinema itself.

The Pacific Cinémathèque has been our go-to cinema for classic and foreign films for decades.  It was there we first saw Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, David Lean’s Oliver Twist, Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, and many other unforgettable movies.  Long before we got Turner Classic Movies, the Cinémathèque was where we went for something other than the summer blockbusters.  Soon, the Cinémathèque will be relocating and becoming part of the TELUS garden development in downtown Vancouver.  Next year will also be its 40th anniversary, so I strongly recommend checking it out and enjoying a truly memorable moviegoing experience.


The Far Country and The Man From Laramie were two Anthony Mann westerns from the 1950s starring Jimmy Stewart.  The former depicts Stewart as a nomadic, self-reliant man in the late 19th century.  He makes his money driving a herd of cattle from the United States to Canada and then taking his profits to stake a claim during the gold rush.  The latter shows a highly ethical, yet vengeful Stewart on a quest to find the man responsible for selling repeating rifles to the American Indians.


It was fantastic to see these two films back to back, as the range of Stewart’s talent is clearly evident.  Stewart is often thought of as playing himself in every movie, but I strongly dispute that claim.  It is hard to believe that the same man embodies both these characters, as one is easy to dislike and the other evokes sympathy even as he exacts his revenge.  The Man from Laramie is by far the better movie, though.  The complexity of the story and the supporting characters outweigh the rather thin plot of The Far Country.  Yet, this gold rush odyssey is still worth watching for its strong female characters and the beautiful scenery of Jasper, Alberta, where the movie was filmed.


All in all, I very much enjoyed my sixth prize and am looking forward to win number seven! Wish me luck for July!

My Review of Blue Valentine

After many days of doing other “delightful tasks,” I finally sat down and watched Blue Valentine. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, given that all I knew was the movie was “critically acclaimed” and the DVD cover has Michelle Williams (Cindy) and Ryan Gosling (Dean) looking lovingly at one another. It turned out I was in for a very emotional cinematic ride.

The movie intercuts the early days of Cindy and Dean’s relationship with their present day relationship. The former depiction is that of a passionate and tender pair who are a delight to watch. The best scene in the movie involves the two displaying their hidden talents. According to director Derek Cianfrance, this scene was entirely improvised, with the actors really showing each other their hidden talents for the first time. It looks very natural and the joy of their respective discoveries is incredibly palpable.


Juxtaposing the youthful enthusiasm and joyous love of this pair with the embittered and pained duo we see years later is almost a cruelty to the eyes and heart. We don’t see the degeneration of the relationship, but we can guess what has taken place and how Cindy and Dean have grown apart.


I won’t reveal more than this, as it is easy to give away too much in describing this film. Suffice it to say, that I was hugely impressed by Blue Valentine. Williams and Gosling give fantastic performances and the dialogue is incredibly real. It is not an easy movie to watch for two reasons, though. First, its realism has a bluntness and in-your-face quality that is almost confrontational. It’s like Cianfrance is challenging his audience to examine their own relationships; to juxtapose in their own minds what they were like when they first met their significant other and how they interact with that same person now. Second, the film is also very honest about the sexuality of its characters and it depicts their physical interactions with the same unrelenting boldness it does all their other interactions. The film was originally given an NC-17 rating, but had it reduced to an “R.” That said, the sex scenes are in no way gratuitous. I didn’t find them offensive in any way and thought they were integral to the story.


So, given all I’ve just written, I think it’s clear that this movie is not for the You’ve Got Mail/Bridget Jones’ Diary fans. However, if realism, rather than escapism is what you’re in the mood for give Blue Valentine a shot, though maybe not on Valentine’s Day.


*So, where am I at in my winning streak? For those of you keeping score, I have won five prizes so far: Tickets to the Talking Stick Festival; Passes to West is West, $100 worth of Dutch cheese; Tickets to an International Dance Day performance; and passes to Something Borrowed, a regular popcorn, and a DVD of Blue Valentine. The approximate total of my winnings is $282.24. I should mention that I have won a $5 off coupon to East Side Mario’s, a free Tim Horton’s coffee with Roll up the Rim, and other percentage off coupons, but I am not counting those, as I don’t really consider coupons a prize and, well, I had to buy a tea to get the cup to roll up the rim, so yeah, that doesn’t count either. I’m quite happy that I’ve basically won one prize a month since I started, so here’s hoping for an even bigger win this month!

My Review of West is West

Thursday night I enjoyed my second win of the year and went to see an advanced screening of West is West, courtesy of The Vancouver Sun.  West is West is the sequel to the 1999 film, East is East.  In the first film, we meet George Khan and his large family.  Khan is a Pakistani Muslim who came to England, married Ella, and had seven children with her.  That film deals with the culture clash between George and his children who rebel against his traditional values and attempts to arrange their marriages.

In West is West, we see the Khans four years later.  Their youngest son, Sajid, is being taunted and bullied at school for being Pakistani.  He responds by denying his heritage and hurling insults at his father, who still wants to instil traditional values into the last of his children.  George Khan takes his son to Pakistan in an attempt to teach him what it means to be Pakistani.  However, Sajid is not the only one who ends up struggling with questions about cultural identity.


I must admit I liked West is West better than the original film.  I found the darker elements of East is East difficult to watch and thought of George Khan as truly unlikeable character.  Yet, in the sequel, he is portrayed in a much more complex way and it is easy to feel sympathy for him, rather than just dislike.  The film is also very funny at times and that makes up for some cliche moments that occur.   I would recommend all of you check it out, especially on a grey day that needs some brightening.


Official movie site: http://westiswest.com/

Contesting Normal

As I scan rain-splattered windows for “enter to win” and surf the net for the keyword “contest,” I’m really searching for more than prizes and money. It’s the cure for the common life I’m after.


This is not to say that I wake up each day bemoaning my existence. Yet, the surprise and unexpectedness of life seems to wane as childhood and youth slip away and you well and truly become an adult. Thus, being a proactive person, I have found that entering contests is an appropriate substitute for the anticipatory thrill that comes before a fifth birthday, first roller coaster ride, and blind date.


Then, there’s the winning. The delight that follows the realization: you’ve beaten the odds. Someone else hasn’t won, you have. Suddenly, you’re the prettiest girl in the room, the top of the dean’s list, and the most popular person on Facebook. Just for that moment, you’re exceptional. Very few of these moments occur spontaneously, at least for me. You’ve got to make them happen.


So, the next time I post a win, know I’m clapping my hands, grinning from ear to ear, and spinning around. Because, for a short time, I get to be five-years-old again.

Movies about Prize Winners

To pique your interest a bit I thought I’d note a few movies for you to check out about prize winners.  I actually love watching other people win prizes, unless that means I am losing the same prize.  In any case, check these out and keep following our progress to see which of us wins a prize first!





The Start of a Great Adventure

Before Christmas, in the retro atmosphere of the Waldorf Hotel, two friends made a vow for New Years: enter as many contests as possible and see who wins the most prizes.  Now, I’ve always considered myself a lucky person, not in terms of height or mathematical skill, but in my ability to win prizes.  My interrupted winning streak started at age six when my parents took me to a church bazaar and I won an enormous bottle of Andre’s wine.  My Dad tried to look happy, but being a painter, he already had his share of paint stripper.  Since that first momentous win, I have won play tickets, gift baskets from The Body Shop, Lush, and Sephora, Canucks tickets, and a number of other prizes worth less than $300.  So, yeah I don’t win big, but I do win relatively frequently.

The rules of this contest are very simple.  My friend and I will enter as many contests as possible.  I don’t think it matters if we enter the same contests or not, but the contest entries must be free.  This is because I am as cheap as I am lucky.  My willingness to do odd things to win will vary depending on whether my common sense or extremely competitive nature comes out on top. I am only entering contests that offer prizes I would actually want or would like to give to someone close to me.  At the end of all this, whoever wins the most will take the “loser” out for a nice dinner and very delicious cocktails at the Waldorf Hotel in January 2012, should the world still be here.

So, start your pools now.  Who’s going to win?  As the days and months go by, you will learn more about us.  Discuss amongst your friends and family which of the two of us seems to have the luckier profile, star sign (I’m a Cancer under the old zodiac and a Gemini under the new, BTW), and track record.

May the luckiest woman win!

How Lucky: a year-long challenge

So two women of my acquaintance have decided to challenge each other to enter contests this year. This blog will be the log.

I don’t judge them, just their results. The object of the game is to enter contests, and win contests.

I am sure both women will judge the real winner to be the one who wins the most prizes, in terms of cash value. I will also try to track the number of entries and the number of wins. If all goes well, they’ll update daily with the contests they have entered (and, if they’re lucky, won).

Any other terms? Not really. A contest means a contest: paid-entry lotteries don’t count. Any free-to-enter challenge (whether judged by a test of skill or essentially by chance) does.

The challenge started January 1st, the updates start now. Entries end December 31st, but any wins that happen after the end of the year still count. GO!