Dave Duncan

"Eat Well, Stay Fit, Die Anyway"

Archive for July, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs The Annex

Ok, so I’m a bit of a geek. As much as I try to hide it, people usually figure it out once they hear about things like my job as a programmer, the math degree from Waterloo or that I had Napoleon Dynamite glasses with super thick coke bottle lenses back in high school.

However, one of the things I never really got into was comic books. I’m pretty sure that I wanted to be Batman at some point of my childhood (but face it, who didn’t?) but outside of Archie & the gang from Riverdale, I never explored the medium. It’s only been lately that I’ve been checking some of them out, like Watchmen, V for Vendetta or Scott Pilgrim.

Today is the release day for Issue #6 of Scott Pilgrim or Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour. I’m sure you’ve seen the trailer or the commercials for the upcoming feature film starring Michael Cera and thought that it looks kind of like a comic book. Well, yeah, it’s actually six different books with the conclusion of the series being released last night. Actually, I shouldn’t act like this is some big underground, secret series as it’s featured in most bookstores these days and it’s pretty tough to ignore.

So anyways, where was I? Right, Scott Pilgrim #6. Since the series was set in Toronto and the writer was from Toronto, there were some pretty cool events in the city last night to celebrate the release of the conclusion to the story. I met up with fellow SilentTalkie Radio host Karim and his wife Kristie to check out the goings-on at The Beguiling, which is apparently a famous Toronto comic book store in The Annex. There was to be a few bands playing, awards for costumes, swag for sale and of course a lengthy autograph session with the man himself Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Karim and I showed up around 9pm and there was already the beginnings of a crowd gathering. There were a couple hundred people dillying about on a street that would typically have been quiet on a Monday night. I would’ve contemplated joining the autograph line, but I didn’t bring anything with me to get signed. After wandering the block, there were plenty of signs of life among the patios surrounding the store, but we could find no sign of the promised bands, so we tried to find a patio to grab a drink. An hour and a half later, we joined Kristie and headed back. The street was now so crowded with people that it was unofficially shut down. About halfway down the block, they were handing out awards for the best costumes and some other stuff. Unfortunately, instead of a PA, they were just using a bullhorn, so I couldn’t really hear exactly what was going on, but there was a real sense of anticipation building.

After a short detour for ice cream, (which I got in a mini-Blue Jays helmet, just admit it, you’re jealous) it was finally time for the book to be unveiled. The event seemed to lack organization for the hundreds of people there. (I think they hit their target of 1000 or at least were really close) People were standing in unofficial lines until about 11:45 when they finally announced where the lines were to get your autographed copy, or if you didn’t want to wait in the line of 500 strong, just your copy of the graphic novel. After a muffled countdown at midnight, we were handed our books and sent on our way.

All in all, it was a neat event. It was cool to see so many young people (everyone seemed between the ages of 15 and 35) just chilling, waiting for their piece of Toronto lore. On the nerd scale, with 0 being the Super Bowl and 10 being LARPing or a Star Trek fan expo, this is probably an 8 or about on par with the World RPS Championships. It was definitely nerdy, but it was still cool with plenty of girls and hipsters to be found. As for the actual book? Well, I won’t ruin the story for you, but it’s a fitting end, so check it out or just wait for the movie in a month.


Off the Grid, and Lovin’ it

So I left on Saturday for two weeks of campin’ and cottagin’ which means no access to any technology whatsoever.  I’ve also been hella busy lately, so I didn’t get a chance to pre-write a lot of posts (except this one), so things are going to be pretty quiet here over the next few weeks.

Some of my friends might pop in and leave a post or two, but I wouldn’t count on them.  Just take it easy and rest assured that when I’m back, I’ll have lots of stories and photos to share from Quebec City, Parc Jacques Cartier and of course from the cottage.

Enjoy the rest of July and keep Toronto warm for me.

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Behind-the-Scenes at the Argos Home Opener

So it took a while to go through all my shots from CFLTweet night, but I’ve managed to put together just a few that showcase how awesome the night was. Sit back and enjoy.

[Click any photo to see it in larger format in a new window]

We started out by meeting up CFL headquarters in gorgeous boardroom filled with pizza, drinks and swag bags.

Each bag contained a Tim Hortons insulated mug, a sleeve of Wilson Ultra golf balls, a Fox 40 whistle (which my dog LOVES when I blow it in the house, the wife? Not so much), a beautiful leather cardholder/wallet and a CFL pin.

There was also a wicked comfy Edmonton Eskimos toque promoting the 2010 Grey Cup in Edmonton.  These aren’t available anywhere else except on the heads of the SCTO crew (and some select CFL staffers), which is why I haven’t yet taken mine off.

After some introductions by Jaime Stein, we had a great chat with CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon.  Not only is he very personable and easy to talk to, but he has an evident passion for the CFL and its fans.  That was very refreshing to see.

Since it was the Argos home opener that night, Mark had to run off to the game, but not before the requisite group shot.

After talking about the league, its past and its vision for the future, we got a tour of the operations area from Tom Higgins, the CFL’s director of officiating and a former player and coach.  As soon as Tom opened his mouth, you could tell he used to be a coach in the majors, and he was absolutely captivating. To any and all of you at the CFL, you have to get him hosting a weekly podcast about the game.  It’ll be a huge hit.

He showed us the room where all CFL game video replays are done and called from, and it is easily the coolest play to watch a football game.  Pictured above, the setup includes a huge HD TV (so you can see the play as big and clear as possible) and a slo-mo and frame-by-frame replay computer (also in HD).  I want to watch all my TV in that room.

Next, we headed down to the Rogers Centre for a behind-the-scenes look at gameday.  We started up in the Pressbox, where we got the bird’s eye view of the field, saw how the media guys watch the game in style and even met a few of them.

Then came the big moment; field level.  Stepping out on that turf was something else, let me tell you.  First off, it’s rubbery, so there’s a bounce in your step.  Second off, it’s the freaking Rogers Centre turf, so there’s a bounce in your step.

Even standing still, there was a bounce in my step.

Sidenote: Seriously Dave, rolled jeans?

Even the food is bigger on the field.  That burger is roughly the same diameter as one of those saucers you used as a kid when you went sledding, and that frosty is easily two stories tall.

Even the needle looks better.

Our friendly PC on sideline duty.  I asked him for a thumbs up, but all he gave me was a smile.  Still, pretty nice of him considering that he was also making sure I didn’t make a break for the field.  Multi-tasking is key.

We took a group shot on the sideline just before we had front FRONT row seats to the game’s opening where a huge Canadian flag was unfurled by members of our armed forces, the anthem was sung, fireworks were exploded and the teams were both introduced.

One of three-piece-suited entourage hamming it up for the cameras.

Our other three-piece member giving us the rundown on who to watch and what to expect from the game.

Seriously.  I was that close to the endzone marker that I could take that picture of the sideline. Unbelievable.

Keep Prayin', you'll need it

We had a nice chat with Lewis, who promised an exciting game and assured us of a Calgary victory.

The view from our seats was awesome, and if you were hoping for pictures of the actual game, think again.  Did the CFL stop me from taking shots? No way.  I just wanted to sit back and watch the game in peace.

The Argos trailed most of the game, but made an heroic comeback in the last quarter to take it home.  Great job guys.

So, in summary, the CFL is awesome for the following reasons:

  • If they’ll treat an idiot like me to an experience like this, then all the talk about how much they love their fans isn’t just true, but very heartfelt.  That was evident.
  • Everyone in the organization loves Canadian football.  Do you love the industry you work in that much?  I highly doubt it.
  • They take the integrity of game-changing calls VERY seriously (are you listening, FIFA?) not for the teams’ sake, but for the fans.
  • They put on a great game each and every time a team takes the field.

Don’t just take my word for it.  Pick up a few tickets and go see a game.  You might not get on the field, but I can guarantee you’ll have a great time. Every time.

Thanks again to Jaime and all the folks at the CFL for being such gracious and generous hosts.


You’ll be Blue with Jealousy

Back in the spring, big time design helped organize a social media event centered around major league sports enterprises and how they’re effectively using social media to engage with fans.  It was called Sports Connect TO and it was a big hit.  One of the panelists was Jaime Stein, Digital Media Manager for the CFL.

To thank us for including him in the panel, all the organizers have been invited to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  We’re headed to the CFL headquarters tonight for a tour of their facilities by the head of officiating and we’ll be treated to a Q&A with the league commissioner, Mark Cohon.  Not only are cameras permitted, but they’re being strongly encouraged.  Just when I thought I couldn’t love the CFL more, they go and do something like this.

As an added surprise, we were just told that we’re also invited to take in the Argos home opener right after the tour and Q&A, which means I’m basically living the CFL fan’s dream tonight.

Stay tuned for a full breakdown of the evening, including photos and all sorts of delicious insider information tomorrow.

And I was worried that there would be a void left once the World Cup was over.  My faith in sports is very much renewed, thanks to the CFL.

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Meeting with Corporate

Today is company meeting day, but since it’s a small company, it’s at my house so at least I don’t have to travel far.  Since we moved Karim into his new house on Friday, this is the first chance we’ve all had to sit down as a group face-to-face, and that’s pretty exciting.

What’s not exciting is that I’m living the bachelor life this week.  I dropped Danielle off in London this weekend for a week-long conference (we’ll call it that to make a long story short) and it’s just me and the dog ruling the roost.

I think she planned this on purpose so I’d have to air out and pack all our camping stuff alone, but what she doesn’t know is that I love to do it.  We’ll just keep that little secret between us, okay?

Time to brew some coffee and tidy up a bit before the company arrives.  Literally, the ‘company’.

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Tired and Angry, but Hopeful

I’m tired and I’m mad.  Sure, that’s pretty normal for me, but I’m especially tired and especially mad.

First, why I’m tired.  I had a meeting downtown yesterday, and as someone who very recently finds himself living in air conditioning, I wore jeans and a long-sleeved shirt.  The meeting was not in A/C and I lost 20 lbs sweating.  No big deal, because when I got home, I hung out in our frigid basement for a few hours.

Stupid me realizes that yesterday evening is the last time in at least 4 days I can mow the lawn and it needs it 4 days ago, not in the future. So I mowed both lawns in that humidity.  I’m an idiot.

I’m mad for two reasons.  First, I was passed over for the role of Governor General YET AGAIN.  Can you believe that!? Me. This country is going down the drain fast.

The second reason is that I was heading home from yesterday’s meeting having avoided hearing anything about the Germany v. Spain soccer match so I could watch it last night.  I had my German flag tied to my bag and a Spanish fan ran up to me in the subway wearing his jersey and started to say something.  I told him I hadn’t seen the game and didn’t want to know the score as I was going to watch it later.  Dude says “Don’t bother. You lost and we won”.  My only regret is that I didn’t punch him in his stupid, smiling face.

Alas, all will be forgotten because tonight I will see the Flaming Lips live in concert and I have it on good authority that I should wear socks, for they shall be rocked off.

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Windows ‘Audio Out’ Should be Thrown Out a Window

So I sometimes hook my laptop up to our fancypants TV so we can watch movies and TV shows.  Don’t ask how I get them on my laptop as I’ll be forced to lie through my teeth, but let’s just assume it’s all perfectly legal, shall we?  Anyways, I connect via HDMI cable and Windows automatically detects my settings for video beautifully and it looks great.

However, I have to manually change my video output from my laptop speakers to HDMI out.  Even crazier, I have to select is the default output.  So, why is it that if I choose HDMI as my default output, and there is no HDMI cable plugged in, Windows doesn’t just bypass that output and put audio through my PC speakers?

Isn’t that how choosing a default works?  That’s the setting the system defaults to, right?  Why even use that terminology if I’m just choosing my output?  Windows should just say that I’m choosing to put audio through HDMI.  I can’t believe that this doesn’t just work.

It really annoys me each time I set up our home entertainment system.  So much so, I’m thinking of getting a second computer to just leave hooked up to the TV at all times.  That I could also surf the web during commercials is just an added bonus (especially if I hook up a second, mirrored monitor next to my couch).  Okay, I’m just tech-salivating now.

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The Weekend Round-Up

We finally made it home from a great weekend in Montreal, in spite of the horrific traffic that tried to keep us from making it home.  That’s always the tough part of going away on a long weekend, and it was amplified by the fact that we left in light traffic on Friday when everyone else headed out on Wednesday.

We had a bittersweet family visit as we said goodbye to Danielle’s sister Lisa.  She’s moving to England next weekend for at least year (and maybe more) so we said our last “in-person” goodbyes and now look forward to regular updates on Skype.  Just imagine the good old days when people had to converse expensively by telegraph and telephone over the Atlantic with friends and family.  Isn’t technology great?

Also great, the technology of air conditioning which will keep me from dying this week in the massive heat wave in Ontario and Quebec.  I’m basically doing some reverse hibernation and dreaming of the first snowstorm of the coming winter.  Mmm, winter.

Oh, and go Germany!  What a blowout!

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