Thursday, January 26, 2006 at 11:40 AM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThere seems to be a surprising amount of occurences in my life lately revolving around animal love. I have no idea why it keeps popping up, or why I make note of it, but today brought about an excellent example.

Earlier this week, I was watching an old SNL clip involving the guest host at a pirate convention. Peter Saarsgaard (Garden State) was brought in because of the 'aars' in his name, and the pirates kept asking him questions that would lead to similar sounding answers. I forget what the correct answer for the pirates was, but Horatio Sanz asked him for the name of a popular website featuring barnyard animal love.

Saargaard answered "I don't know, animalloveclub.com?" Sanz gives the correct answer, then brings out a notepad and says "Er, what be the name of the other one?"

Then the goat joke came up again. I can't remember the context, but I'm sure it was funny. That joke never gets old.

Today, however, the Metro horoscope section decided to make it personal. Most of my horoscope was fine, but the last line was "Visit with friends and their pets for a fun time after dark."

...


Um, NO.


...


Well, maybe.
Posted by Parallel
Friday, January 20, 2006 at 9:59 AM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usUp until recently, the box that alters the way people watch television was restricted to use in the United States only. Tivo is a DVR (digital video recorder) and though it would be easy to pass it off as a new-age VCR, there is so much more to it.

I picked up an 80hr Humax Tivo DVD Recorder through the States (read below to see the complicated process that is worth the effort). In addition to storing up to 80hrs of television programming, I can also burn and play DVDs of my favorite shows and movies. This frees up the hard drive and also makes for a tidy collection. My connection is simple: just a standard cable set up, but the package is so thorough that it contains a huge amount of telephone cord, a coaxial cable, a/v cables, a telephone cable splitter box, and cable to connect a satellite dish or cable box if you have one (I don't). This thing would work off an antenna.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usTivo also features some of the following: pause and rewind live TV, create a "wishlist" of shows you'd like the Tivo to record and it will do so across channels. If you like the Simpson's, simply ask the Tivo to record any and all instances of the show. There goes that 80hrs quickly. If you want a show that hasn't been on in quite some time, ask Tivo to look for it and even if it's two years later and the show comes on, Tivo will record it.

Forget to program it before you left home? EMAIL the thing, and it will tape your show. It also offers full TV Guide program listings, can be connected to your home computer, play MP3s, display your pictures, and walk your dog. For any channel you're viewing, it stores up to half an hour in its memory so if you walk away and missed a scene, forgetting to pause the Tivo, just rewind. Many people will wait until 20 minutes into an hour long show before they sit down to watch it so they can skip commericals.

As for recording, you can record one channel and watch another, or watch a recorded show while taping another. It's pretty darn convenient. The Tivo remote is fully compatible with everything else nearby, so you can set it up to do everything at once.

Canada has it's own DVRs offered through Shaw and Rogers, but these are typically tied directly in to your cable bills and subscriptions and if you're like me and feel that Rogers controls too much of the free world, it feels nice to have a non-affiliated box to save your favorite programs with. Also, at this stage, Rogers does not have a DVR capable of playing and burning DVDs as well.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usWhile Tivo recently announced that it now offers Canadian service, that doesn't mean that you should head to Future Shop to try and buy one. The process is still complicated, though Jamie says that an article in the Windsor Star indicates that they will soon be sold here in Canada.

At this point, Tivo is only sold in the United States, and many retailers do not ship across the border. There are a couple, such as Weaknees.com, who will, but for those who have a US connection, this is what you should do:

1. Use MasterCard over Visa if you can. People have had trouble with the latter and I had no issues with MasterCard. Call them and get them to add a US address as a second BILLING address. Make sure you state billing, not shipping. Having someone to send it to is crucial, otherwise a stranger will get your Tivo.

The reason for this is that while Tivo supports Canadian users, their online store is not set up for Canadian credit card addresses. I recommend Tivo.com over US versions of Walmart or Best Buy, because Tivo has the best deals. You get a year-long subscription and $150 off the recorder straight away. If you just want a 40hr Tivo, you can get one with a year subscription for about $50 US.

2. Calling Tivo. It's a waste of time, because their service reps can't use your Canadian card data either. Also, the 1-800 isn't available to call from most areas in the GTA. I could do it at work through our telecom system, or if you really want to call, use a free web service like SKYPE.COM to call for you. Get the billing address changed, then just use that on their website. I had no issues with this, and it took about 5 business days for it to arrive at my shipping address.

3. The set-up: I went through this last night and it's LARGELY a painless process. There are a few hiccups that I didn't see on helpful forums such as TIVOCANADA.COM or http://forums.tivo.com.

When activating your Tivo online, you have to enter your address differently. It says how on the site, so I won't get into it, but your address will partly read LEO, WY, 82327. This is the default for Canada at the present.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usDuring guided set-up with your Tivo, you'll hit a snag. It asks for your area code, give it and it identifies your city, but it asks for your zip code, and you enter 82327 and it lists Wyoming. When it asks for your local cable provider, it also reads a local Wyoming station which you should select, but it WILL MESS UP your listings.

Here's what you do:
- Go through the guided setup selecting 82327 as the ZIP code
- Enter in your area code, then select the appropriate call in number that isn't long distance for you
- Tivo connects via telephone for a small program update
- Select the default Wyoming cable provider and channels it finds
- The guided setup states it's done and the update will take 4-8 hours to complete. You can watch TV only through the Tivo but don't stress it's not done yet.
- Navigate to http://research.tivo.com/72priority/ then enter your 15 digit Tivo service number. This should tell Tivo to download the latest software to your Tivo asap
- (I have not yet received my update, but the site says it can be up to 3 days)
- Now click your Tivo button, select settings, then "restart your Tivo", and select "restart guided setup".
- When you get to the ZIP code entry screen push the "enter" button on your Tivo remote, enter your postal code on the next screen
- Now select the local cable service provider
- Tivo connects, downloads your local program updates and you're done!

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSo, it's a bit of a pain, but I'm guessing it will become much easier once they're available in Canada. If you want one, I suggest you head to tivo.com in the near future and buy it from them. Total cost for me, once I had the recorder and a lifetime service agreement (you don't have to pay anything again, otherwise after the year of service it's about $13 US a month), was a bit over $500 CND. Bye-bye Christmas money.

This thing is heavy as well. About 18 lbs. total. There are a/v inputs on the front and back of the machine, so if you so desire, you can hook up your Nintendo, Xbox, VCR, whatever into it. Handy, huh?

But that's it. A few steps, yes, but nothing too extreme. Hope it helps to any of you reading this who are interested. If you're not and I just did all this for nothing, then I hate you all.
Posted by Parallel
Thursday, January 19, 2006 at 10:50 AM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThat's what this blog seems like sometimes. Either I'm posting every day, or there's nearly a week in between posts. I blame it on a lack of an interesting existence. Though I'm acutely aware that I have all of my friends and family out there to service. All of you who don't call.

I don't call either. But I have a reason: I'm lazy.

So, this is an expensive week in the Gerow-Wilkinson household. Despite my pessimistic attitude, it seems that Catherine and I are indeed goin to China this July for a three-week stint, where we will meet up with Catherine's brother, David.

We booked it and everything. Catherine, of course, gets the window seat. Fine my me, as on a 13 hour flight I'm happy to have the aisle to stretch my legs out a little. This means weeks of prep, light packing, needles, passports, and lots of other insane bits. Thankfully David went through all of this last year, so we know what to expect. And we have 6 months to prepare.

Catherine is using up all of her holidays at once for this, but since I only get two weeks vacation... who knows what will happen. I'm hoping to be going to teacher's college in September, so this might be a good time to leave my job. God help me if I don't get in.

Very excited about the trip though. Catherine's even more hyper, as she's hoping to get to hold a panda. She's obsessed, really. She got a panda mousepad (which sucks as a mousepad), so she's using it as a picture on her desk at work. I seriously doubt she has one of me at her job. I have one of her, though, so I'm the more dedicated partner in the relationship.

Other than that, TIVO is supposed to arrive today. In fact, it's en route. I can smell it. Or maybe that's Nathan. Full TIVO review tomorrow!
Posted by Parallel
Friday, January 13, 2006 at 10:46 AM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usThere is a moment in my life I keep coming back to. The kind that crystalizes in your mind, a feeling, a place, a person that becomes part of the core of who you are. This one involves my grandmother.

Ada Wilkinson, one of the kindest souls I have ever met, eventually had no choice but to live in a retirement ward in a hospital in Scarborough. Going there wasn't fun as the smell of anti-septics, medication, and entrophy was absorbed into everything. Even the white floors glistened with the off-white yellow stain that only sunlight and constant wear can drive into objects.

My father went every weekend to see her. One of my greatest shames is that I didn't go as often as I could have, not because I didn't love my grandmother, but that I couldn't bear the feeling of sadness that came with those trips. You don't make them that often when people are strong and healthy. Only when it's near the end.

One day, my father and I took my grandmother into a hall in the building. It was dark, and only a few lights lit the stage and a grand piano on the floor in front of it. The tables had sheets on them, chairs turned upside down to help the cleaners polish the floors. The balcony was empty.

I asked her if she came here often. "Not often, lovey. They have some people come to play, but not often."

I can play the piano. It's a skill that has fallen off as I haven't done it in any regular amounts for years. At that point, I was still tinkering often enough that I felt okay sitting on the bench, lifting the lid, and brushing off the dusty keys. I'd written a few songs in my spare time. Nothing to make Mozart envious, but nothing to cringe at. I could also play a few contemporary songs. I knew it would make her happy.

The music wasn't any different than any other time I played, but somehow it was stronger and richer than I had ever heard. It filled up the hall and into those dark spaces. My grandmother had her eyes closed and she gently tapped her leg with her hand, keeping time with the music.

As time went on, others came in when they heard the music. There were two people in the balcony, quietly listening. It was my first real audience. I can imagine them walking down the hall and hearing it. Being curious and grateful for the distraction.

When I finally stopped, all too soon now in my mind's eye, there was polite applause. My grandmother smiled and told me she thought it was beautiful.

My grandmother gave me a piano when I was a boy. I learned how to play it, but I never loved it. I didn't understand what a gift it was, what a gift it came to be. She passed away a few years ago. I remember crying when I got the call.

This moment was brought back to my mind by a song driven heavily by a piano. Most songs like it do. The song is 'The Scientist' by Coldplay.

"Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh take me back to the start"
Posted by Parallel
Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 3:32 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.us(LEFT: Variant cover from Spider-Man: The Other, BELOW: Iron Spidey costume sketch). Since it has already been brought to my attention more than once, I figured I'd chime in on Spider-Man's supposedly 'new' costume from Marvel. It's ugly. Yet in some ways, I find it cool.

I can imagine that Toy Biz, the company responsible for making Marvel Legends figures, had a moment of bliss when this image was released because they're brainstorming a way to make yet another useless Spider-Man figure. Apparently, Toy Biz, in order to make their toys as marketable as possible, must include a Spider-Man, Wolverine, or Iron Man in each wave of its figures in order to entice retailers.

That's probably the only way that b-characters are going to make their way through.

At any rate, Spider-Armour guy is going to follow Marvel's 'The Other' crossover which I know absolutely nothing about. What I do know about, however, are trends. This will quickly grow tired and the costume will be dropped, most likely close to the start of the next movie as the iconic version is the one that sells the best.

Designed by Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada, this new design has a few tricks up its sleeve.

"The Iron Spider design - as I like to call it - came to me during a Spider-Man story meeting we were having, we were talking and I was involuntarily sketching on a pad. It's inspired by a sketch that Chris Bachalo did that showed a new Spidey costume with [CLASSIFIED]. I thought that was brilliant, especially since it echoed one of Spidey's greatest villains, and I took the idea and imagined it as though seeing it through the eyes of Tony Stark. The sky's the limit with respect to gadgetry when it comes to Tony inspired costumes."

Still, it's an interesting short-term look.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usMarvel on the whole is a strange place these days. For years I wanted to get in there as an intern or editor in the aim of making myself a writer. This has not happened yet, but I'm working on getting more writing credits. The other two aspects, however, just don't hold the same appeal.

I'm finding that to be true for a lot of things lately, such as journalism. Maybe it's just life and experience, but nothing other than teaching seems to be holding my interest lately. Maybe it's working in an office that doesn't value you very much or figuring out that it's not the office that's messed up, but the whole system of working in the first place.

Nothing I can do except keep looking and keep trying. At least I'll have a new Spider-Man figure to tide me over.

PS. The Tivo has dropped in Buffalo. I might get it tomorrow, or early next week. It depends on my co-worker and whether she can come or not.

I'm not very patient.
Posted by Parallel
Tuesday, January 10, 2006 at 4:51 PM | 0 comments
Six-arms Spidey
I didn't expect to be posting today, but some things are so creepy and ridiculous that you can't help but want to showcase it for everyone who may not have been expecting a web treat.

Here it is, direct from that video site (well, not direct, you'll have to cut and paste) and watch this inspirational video full of horrid singing, bizarre lyrics, cringe-worthy photos, and everything else you'll ever need to convince you that you need to avoid Appalachian State University.

HOT HOT HOT?

Not not not.

http://www.thatvideosite.com/view/1445.html
Posted by Parallel
Monday, January 09, 2006 at 4:33 PM | 0 comments
Image Hosted by ImageShack.usI recently discovered this song by Gorillaz, and I must say it's quite the catchy tune. Normally I don't go in for this sort of thing, but the 'feel good' repetition is just hypnotic.

That's it. That's all of my news. There really isn't much else going on, except that I'm adjusting badly to being back at work. I finally got to a place where I was okay with what I did, but now it just seems more and more pointless. Almost like repeating a grade for the third or fourth time (which I never did, not even once. I's smart).

Jer and I went on a long walk to nowhere on the weekend, then played Rebel Commando for his Xbox. Not a bad game overall, though I still remain a faithful Halo enthusiast. NHL 2004 got Catherine playing and she's expressing a desire for sports games. I'll have to weed that out of her. Or else get more friends.

My Tivo will hopefully arrive later this week. I'm quite jazzed about it, though where I'm going to find time in between season 2 and 3 of Alias, freshly purchased, I have no idea. I've become addicted to television, though oddly enough I don't seem to mind.

A bizarre twist in my Marvel book writing, is that my local comic shop, the Beguiling, has asked if I'll sign the copies that I get in next week. That's cool, but way too odd. It feels like I'm defacing comics, not adding .5 cents to their value.

If it even has any beyond the cool factor for me.

Almost time to go home, go to United Open Karate, feed Truffle, feed myself, and relax with Catherine. Not a bad life, I tell ya.
Posted by Parallel
Friday, January 06, 2006 at 1:00 PM | 0 comments
X-Men: The 198 FilesJust when you think the New Year is going to get off to a slow and uneventful start, things begin to happen. You go back to work, think things are slow, realize there aren't any more holidays until Easter, then you cry, then things start to happen.

The first bit of news is that X-Men: The 198 Files has now been released by Marvel. Written by my co-publisher and friend, Eric J. Moreels, Marc-Oliver Frisch, and myself, Brian Wilkinson.

For those who have known me for years, my ambition has been to get my name in a Marvel book in the credits as writer. For as long as I can remember, this has been my dream. I never thought it would happen, but there it is. I was even asked to sign the copies my comic book store owner got in.

It's just a handbook, nothing major. Not even the proper kind of comic book writing that I wanted to do. Still, it's paid freelance work for a company thousands have dreamed of writing for and failed. That's a big success in my mind.

It's available now and your local comic shop for $5.75 CND.

The other news, and substantially more important in the grand scheme of things, is that Jamie and Nicole are going to become parents. No, not to a new pet as many would immediatley think, but to an actual baby. A human. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

Jamie and Nicole

This news blows my mind.

Jamie and Nic told me via messenger yesterday. Apparently, Nicole gave Jamie a present on Christmas Eve that read "From Nicole, Morgan (their dog), and the baby." Jamie, being Jamie, began to look around for what he assumed to be a new puppy. Nicole had to explain it to him. Then, apparently, Jamie didn't speak for several hours.

While not planned, both of them seem to be happy, if not somewhat shocked themselves. I can't think of someone who will be a better mother than Nicole, so she'll more than balance out Jamie whom I expect to be the permissive parent. At least the kid will be rolling in video games, board games, and action figures. My kind of parent.

Congrats to both of you and good luck. We're here for you.
Posted by Parallel
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